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Full text of "The soul of the Far East"



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Social Sciences & Humanities Library 

University of California, San Diego 
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THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO 
SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 



THE 

SOUL OF THE FAR EAST 



BY 



PERCIVAL LOWELL 

MEMBER OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF JAPAN, AUTHOR OF 
"CHOSON," "A KOREAN COUP D'ETAT" 



NEW ILLUSTRATED EDITION 




Nefa gorfc 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
191 1 

All rights reserved 



COPYRIGHT, 1888, 
Bv PERCIVAL LOWELL. 



COPYRIGHT, 1911, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Bara no hana ni 



CONTENTS. 



L 

INDIVIDUALITY . . 



n. 

FAMILY 29 

m. 

ADOPTION 67 

IV. 
LANGUAGE 78 

V. 

NATURE AND ART 110 

VL 
ABT 142 

VIL 

RELIGION . 162 

vm. 

IMAGINATION . . . 194 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

1 Fuji San .... Frontispiece 

PAGE 

2 Japanese Courtesy .... 10 

3 Young Japan 18 

4 Temple in Heart of Japan ... 23 

5 The Festival of Fishes .... 31 

6 The Older Sister 41 

7 Against the Sky 50 

8 A Quiet Home 68 

9 The Colossal Jizo 72 

10 Daimyo's Castle 78 

11 Wistaria Blossoms 93 

12 A Japanese Garden . . . .110 

13 Japanese Bridge 119 

14 The Oleander 124 

15 Chrysanthemums 127 

16 In Japan 130 

17 Pinning Poem on Tree .... 134 

18 In Cherry Blossom Time . . .136 

19 A Lotus Pond . . . . .138 

20 The Gentle Birds 143 

21 A Glimpse of the Soul of Nature . . 149 

22 The Storks . . . ,.' . . 152 

23 The Art of Japan . . . . .155 

24 In Lotus Land 162 



x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

MM 

25 Meditation . . . . . . . 165 

26 Shinto Pilgrims 167 

27 Stone Lantern 171 

28 A Shrine 180 

29 A Japanese God 191 

30 The Judas Tree 198 

31 Garden in Snow 209 

32 A Hanging Bridge . . . .225 

NOTE. Plates numbers 1-7-13-16-22-25 are re- 
produced, by permission, from hitherto unpublished 
Japanese prints in the collection of the late John 
La Farge. 

Plates numbers 2-6-6-9-11-12-14-16-18-26-27- 
28-29-30 are taken from Tyndale's Japan and the 
Japanese, by courtesy of Methuen & Co., Ltd.; num- 
bers 8-17-20-26 from Mrs. Fraser's A Diplomat's 
Wife in Japan, by courtesy of Hutchinson & Co., 
and number 3 from Menpes's Japan, by courtesy of 
Messrs. A. & C. Black. Thanks are due the publish- 
ers of these books for their permission to reproduce 
these illustrations, which portray so admirably the 
spirit of the Far East. 

The remainder of the plates are reproductions of 
photographs taken by the author. 



THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST 



THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 



INDIVIDUALITY. 

THE boyish belief that on the other side 
of our globe all things are of necessity up- 
side down is startlingly brought back to the 
man when he first sets foot at Yokohama. 
If his initial glance does not, to be sure, 
disclose the natives in the every-day feat of 
standing calmly on their heads, an attitude 
which his youthful imagination conceived to 
be a necessary consequence of their geogra- 
phical position, it does at least reveal them 
looking at the world as if from the stand- 
point of that eccentric posture. For they 
seem to him to see everything topsy-turvy. 
Whether it be that their antipodal situa- 
tion has affected their brains, or whether 
it is the mind of the observer himself that 
has hitherto been wrong in undertaking to 



2 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

rectify the inverted pictures presented by 
his retina, the result, at all events, is unde- 
niable. The world stands reversed, and, 
taking for granted his own uprightness, the 
stranger unhesitatingly imputes to them an 
obliquity of vision, a state of mind out- 
wardly typified by the cat-like obliqueness 
of their eyes. 

If the inversion be not precisely of the 
kind he expected, it is none the less strik- 
ing, and impressibly more real. If personal 
experience has definitely convinced him 
that the inhabitants of that under side of 
our planet do not adhere to it head down- 
wards, like flies on a ceiling, his early a 
priori deduction, they still appear quite 
as antipodal, mentally considered. Intel- 
lectually, at least, their attitude sets gravity 
at defiance. For to the mind's eye their 
world is one huge, comical antithesis of our 
own. What we regard intuitively in one 
way from our standpoint, they as intui- 
tively observe in a diametrically opposite 
manner from theirs. To speak backwards, 
write backwards, read backwards, is but 
the a b c of their contrariety. The inver- 
sion extends deeper than mere modes of 
expression, down into the very matter of 



INDIVIDUALITY. 3 

thought. Ideas of ours which we deemed 
innate find in them no home, while methods 
which strike us as preposterously unnatural 
appear to be their birthright. From the 
standing of a wet umbrella on its handle 
instead of its head to dry to the striking of 
a match away in place of toward one, there 
seems to be no action of our daily lives, 
however trivial, but finds with them its 
appropriate reaction equal but opposite. 
Indeed, to one anxious of conforming to the 
manners and customs of the country, the 
only road to right lies in following unswerv- 
ingly that course which his inherited in- 
stincts assure him to be wrong. 

Yet these people are human beings ; with 
all their eccentricities they are men. Phy- 
sically we cannot but be cognizant of the 
fact, nor mentally but be conscious of it. 
Like us, indeed, and yet so unlike are they 
that we seem, as we gaze at them, to be 
viewing our own humanity in some mirth- 
provoking mirror of the mind, a mirror 
that shows us our own familiar thoughts, 
but all turned wrong side out. Humor 
holds the glass, and we become the sport of 
our own reflections. But is it otherwise at 
home ? Do not our personal presentments 



4 THE SOUL OF TIIE FAR EAST. 

mock each of us individually our lives long? 
Who but is the daily dupe of Lis dressing- 
glass, and complacently conceives himself 
to be a very different appearing person 
from what he is, forgetting that his right 
side has become his left, and vice versa f 
Yet who, when by chance he catches sight 
in like manner of the face of a friend, can 
keep from smiling at the caricatures which 
the mirror's left-for-right reversal makes of 
the asymmetry of that friend's features, 
caricatures all the more grotesque for being 
utterly unsuspected by their innocent orig- 
inal ? Perhaps, could we once see our- 
selves as others see us, our surprise in the 
case of foreign peoples might be less pro- 
nounced. 

Regarding, then, the Far Oriental as a 
man, and not simply as a phenomenon, we 
discover in his peculiar point of view a new 
importance, the possibility of using it 
stereoptically. For his mind-photograph of 
the world can be placed side by side with 
ours, and the two pictures combined will 
yield results beyond what either alone 
could possibly have afforded. Thus har- 
monized, they will help us to realize human- 
ity. Indeed it is only by such a combina- 



1ND1 VID UALITT. 5 

tion of two different aspects that we ever 
perceive substance and distinguish reality 
from illusion. What our two eyes make 
possible for material objects, the earth's 
two hemispheres may enable us to do for 
mental traits. Only the superficial never 
changes its expression ; the appearance of 
the solid varies with the standpoint of the 
observer. In dreamland alone does every- 
thing seem plain, and there all is unsub- 
stantial. 

To say that the Japanese are not a sav- 
age tribe is of course unnecessary ; to repeat 
the remark, anything but superfluous, on 
the principle that what is a matter of com- 
mon notoriety is very apt to prove a matter 
about which uncommonly little is known. 
At present we go halfway in recognition 
of these people by bestowing upon them a 
demi-diploma of mental development called 
semi -civilization, neglecting, however, to 
specify in what the fractional qualification 
consists. If the suggestion of a second 
moiety, as of something directly comple- 
mentary to them, were not indirectly com- 
plimentary to ourselves, the expression 
might pass ; but, as it is, the self-praise is 
rather too obvious to carry conviction. For 



6 TUB SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Japan's claim to culture is not based solely 
upon the exports with which she supple- 
ments our art, nor upon the paper, china, 
and bric-a-brac with which she adorns our 
rooms ; any more than Western science is 
adequately represented in Japan by our 
popular imports there of kerosene oil, 
matches, and beer. Only half civilized the 
Far East presumably is, but it is so rather 
in an absolute than a relative sense ; in 
the sense of what might have been, not of 
what is. It is so as compared, not with us, 
but with the eventual possibilities of hu- 
manity. As yet, neither system, Western 
nor Eastern, is perfect enough to serve in 
all things as standard for the other. The 
light of truth has reached each hemisphere 
through the medium of its own mental 
crystallization, and this has polarized it in 
opposite ways, so that now the rays that 
are normal to the eyes of the one only pro- 
duce darkness to those of the other. For 
the Japanese civilization in the sense of not 
being savagery is the equal of our own. It 
is not in the polish that the real difference 
lies ; it is in the substance polished. In 
politeness, in delicacy, they have as a peo- 
ple no peers. Art has been their mistress, 



INDIVIDUALITY. 7 

though science has never been their master. 
Perhaps for this very reason that art, not 
science, has been the Muse they courted, 
the result has been all the more widespread. 
For culture there is not the attainment of 
the few, but the common property of the 
people. If the peaks of intellect rise less 
eminent, the plateau of general elevation 
stands higher. But little need be said to 
prove the civilization of a land where ordi- 
nary tea-house girls are models of refine- 
ment, and common coolies, when not at 
work, play chess for pastime. 

If Japanese ways look odd at first sight, 
they but look more odd on closer acquaint- 
ance. In a land where, to allow one's 
understanding the freer play of indoor life, 
one begins, not by taking off his hat, but 
by removing his boots, he gets at the very 
threshold a hint that humanity is to be ap- 
proached the wrong end to. When, after 
thus entering a house, he tries next to gain 
admittance to the mind of its occupant, the 
suspicion becomes a certainty. He dis- 
covers that this people talk, so to speak, 
backwards ; that before he can hope to 
comprehend them, or make himself under- 
etood in return, he must learn to present 



8 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

his thoughts arranged in inverse order from 
the one in which they naturally suggest 
themselves to his mind. His sentences 
must all be turned inside out. He finds 
himself lost in a labyrinth of language. 
The same seems to be true of the thoughts 
it embodies. The further he goes the more 
obscure the whole process becomes, until, 
after long groping about for some means of 
orienting himself, he lights at last upon the 
clue. This clue consists in "the survival 
of the unfittest." 

In the civilization of Japan we have pre- 
sented to us a most interesting case of par- 
tially arrested development ; or, to speak 
esoterically, we find ourselves placed face to 
face with a singular example of a com- 
pleted race-life. For though from our 
standpoint the evolution of these people 
seems suddenly to have come to an end in 
mid-career, looked at more intimately it 
shows all the signs of having fully run its 
course. Development ceased, not because 
of outward obstruction, but from purely in- 
trinsic inability to go on. The intellectual 
machine was not shattered ; it simply ran 
down. To this fact the phenomenon owes 
its peculiar interest. For we behold here 



INDIVID UAL1T T. 9 

in the case of man the same spectacle that 
we see cosmically in the case of the moon, 
the spectacle of a world that has died of 
old age. No weak spot in their social or- 
ganism destroyed them from within ; no 
epidemic, in the shape of foreign hordes, 
fell upon them from without. For in spite 
of the fact that China offers the unique ex- 
ample of a country that has simply lived to 
be conquered, mentally her masters have 
invariably become her pupils. Having 
ousted her from her throne as ruler, they 
proceeded to sit at her feet as disciples. 
Thus they have rather helped than hin- 
dered her civilization. 

Whatever portion of the Far East we 
examine we find its mental history to be 
the same story with variations. However 
unlike China, Korea, and Japan are in some 
respects, through the careers of all three 
we can trace the same life-spirit. It is the 
career of the river Jordan rising like any 
other stream from the springs among the 
mountains only to fall after a brief exist- 
ence into the Dead Sea. For their vital 
force had spent itself more than a millen- 
nium ago. Already, then, their civilization 
had in its deeper developments attained 



10 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

its stature, and has simply been perfecting 
itself since. We may liken it to some 
stunted tree, that, finding itself prevented 
from growth, hastes the more luxuriantly 
to put forth flowers and fruit. For not 
the final but the medial processes were 
skipped. In those superficial amenities 
with which we more particularly link our 
idea of civilization, these peoples continued 
to grow. Their refinement, if failing to 
reach our standard in certain respects, sur- 
passes ours considering the bare barbaric 
basis upon which it rests. For it is as 
true of the Japanese as of the proverbial 
Russian, though in a more scientific sense, 
that if you scratch him you will find the 
ancestral Tartar. But it is no less true 
that the descendants of this rude forefather 
have now taken on a polish of which their 
own exquisite lacquer gives but a faint re- 
flection. The surface was perfected after 
the substance was formed. Our word fin- 
ish, with its double meaning, expresses both 
the process and the result. 

There entered, to heighten the bizarre ef- 
fect, a spirit common in minds that lack 
originality the spirit of imitation. Though 
consequent enough upon a want of initia- 




JAPANESE COURTESY 



INDIVIDUALITY. 11 

tive, the results of this trait appear any- 
thing but natural to people of a more pro- 
gressive past. The proverbial collar and 
pair of spurs look none the less odd to 
the stranger for being a mental instead of 
a bodily habit. Something akin to such 
a case of unnatural selection has there 
taken place. The orderly procedure of 
natural evolution was disastrously supple- 
mented by man. For the fact that in the 
growth of their tree of knowledge the 
branches developed out of all proportion 
to the trunk is due to a practice of culture- 
grafting. 

From before the time when they began 
to leave records of their actions the Japan- 
ese have been a nation of importers, not of 
merchandise, but of ideas. They have in- 
variably shown the most advanced free- 
trade spirit in preferring to take somebody 
else's ready-made articles rather than to 
try to produce any brand-new conceptions 
themselves. They continue to follow the 
same line of life. A hearty appreciation 
of the things of others is still one of their 
most winning traits. What they took they 
grafted bodily upon their ancestral tree, 
which in consequence came to present a 



12 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

most unnaturally diversified appearance. 
For though not unlike other nations in 
wishing to borrow, if their zeal in the mat- 
ter was slightly excessive, they were pe- 
culiar in that they never assimilated what 
they took. They simply inserted it upon 
the already existing growth. There it re- 
mained, and throve, and blossomed, nour- 
ished by that indigenous Japanese sap, 
taste. But like grafts generally, the for- 
eign boughs were not much modified by 
their new life-blood, nor was the tree in its 
turn at all affected by them. Connected 
with it only as separable parts of its struc- 
ture, the cuttings might have been lopped 
off again without influencing perceptibly 
the condition of the foster-parent stem. The 
grafts in time grew to be great branches, 
but the trunk remained through it all the 
trunk of a sapling. In other words, the 
nation grew up to man's estate, keeping 
the mind of its childhood. 

What is thus true of the Japanese is 
true likewise of the Koreans and of the 
Chinese. The three peoples, indeed, form 
so many links in one long chain of borrow- 
ing. China took from India, then Korea 
copied China, and lastly Japan imitated 



INDIVIDUALITY. 13 

Korea. In this simple manner they succes- 
sively became possessed of a civilization 
which originally was not the property of 
any one of them. In the eagerness they 
all evinced in purloining what was not 
theirs, and in the perfect content with 
which they then proceeded to enjoy what 
they had taken, they remind us forcibly of 
that happy-go-lucky class in the commu- 
nity which prefers to live on questionable 
loans rather than work itself for a living. 
Like those same individuals, whatever in- 
terest the Far Eastern people may succeed 
in raising now, Nature will in the end 
make them pay dearly for their lack of 
principal. 

The Far Eastern civilization resembles, 
in fact, more a mechanical mixture of social 
elements than a well differentiated chemi- 
cal compound. For in spite of the great 
variety of ingredients thrown into its cal- 
dron of destiny, as no affinity existed be- 
tween them, no combination resulted. The 
power to fuse was wanting. Capability to 
evolve anything is not one of the marked 
characteristics of the Far East. Indeed, 
the tendency to spontaneous variation, Na- 
ture's mode of making experiments, would 



14 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

seem there to have been an enterprising 
faculty that was exhausted early. Sleepy, 
no doubt, from having got up betimes with 
the dawn, these dwellers in the far lands 
of the morning began to look upon their 
day as already well spent before they had 
reached its noon. They grew old young, 
and have remained much the same age 
ever since. What they were centuries ago, 
that at bottom they are to-day. Take away 
the European influence of the last twenty 
years, and each man might almost be his 
own great-grandfather. In race character- 
istics he is yet essentially the same. The 
traits that distinguished these peoples in 
the past have been gradually extinguishing 
them ever since. Of these traits, stagnat- 
ing influences upon their career, perhaps 
the most important is the great quality of 
impersonality. 

If we take, through the earth's temper- 
ate zone, a belt of country whose northern 
and southern edges are determined by cer- 
tain limiting isotherms, not more than half 
the width of the zone apart, we shall find 
that we have included in a relatively small 
extent of surface almost all the nations of 
note in the world, past or present. Now 



INDIVID UALIT T. 15 

if we examine this belt, and compare the 
different parts of it with one another, we 
shall be struck by a remarkable fact. The 
peoples inhabiting it grow steadily more per- 
sonal as we go west. So unmistakable is 
this gradation of spirit, that one is tempted 
to ascribe it to cosmic rather than to hu- 
man causes. It is as marked as the change 
in color of the human complexion observ- 
able along any meridian, which ranges from 
black at the equator to blonde toward the 
pole. In like manner, the sense of self 
grows more intense as we follow in the 
wake of the setting sun, and fades stead- 
ily as we advance into the dawn. Amer- 
ica, Europe, the Levant, India, Japan, each 
is less personal than the one before. We 
stand at the nearer end of the scale, the 
Far Orientals at the other. If with us the 
/ seems to be of the very essence of the 
soul, then the soul of the Far East may be 
said to be Impersonality. 

Curious as this characteristic is as a fact, 
it is even more interesting as a factor. For 
what it betokens of these peoples in partic- 
ular may suggest much about man gener- 
ally. It may mark a stride in theory, if 
a standstill in practice. Possibly it may 



16 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

help us to some understanding of ourselves. 
Not that it promises much aid to vexed 
metaphysical questions, but as a study in 
sociology it may not prove so vain. 

And for a thing which is always with us, 
its discussion may be said to be peculiarly 
opportune just now. For it lies at the bot- 
tom of the most pressing questions of the 
day. Of the two great problems that stare 
the Western world in the face at the pres- 
ent moment, both turn to it for solution. 
Agnosticism, the foreboding silence of those 
who think, socialism, communism, and nihil- 
ism, the petulant cry of those who do not, 
alike depend ultimately for the right to be 
upon the truth or the falsity of the sense of 
self. 

For if there be no such actual thing as 
individuality, if the feeling we call by that 
name be naught but the transient illusion 
the Buddhists would have us believe it, 
any faith founded upon it as basis vanishes 
as does the picture in a revolving kaleido- 
scope, less enduring even than the flit- 
ting phantasmagoria of a dream. If the 
ego be but the passing shadow of the ma- 
terial brain, at the disintegration of the 
gray matter what will become of us ? Shall 



INDIVID UA LIT Y. 17 

we simply lapse into an indistinguishable 
part of the vast universe that compasses 
us round ? At the thought we seem to 
stand straining our gaze, on the shore of 
the great sea of knowledge, only to watch 
the foe: roll in, and hide from our view even 

O 

those headlands of hope that, like beseech- 
ing hands, stretch out into the deep. 

So more materially. If individuality be 
a delusion of the mind, what motive potent 
enough to excite endeavor in the breast 
of an ordinary mortal remains ? Philoso- 
phers, indeed, might still work for the ad- 
vancement of mankind, but mankind itself 
would not continue long to labor energeti- 
cally for what should profit only the com- 
mon weal. Take away the stimulus of in- 
dividuality, and action is paralyzed at once. 
For with most men the promptings of per- 
sonal advantage only afford sufficient incen- 
tive to effort. Destroy this force, then any 
consideration due it lapses, and socialism is 
not only justified, it is raised instantly into 
an axiom of life. The community, in that 
case, becomes itself the unit, the indivisible 
atom of existence. Socialism, then com- 
munism, then nihilism, follow in inevitable 
sequence. That even the Far Oriental, 



18 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

with all his numbing impersonality, has not 
touched this goal may at least suggest that 
individuality is a fact. 

But first, what do we know about its ex- 
istence ourselves? 

Very early in the course of every thought- 
ful childhood an event takes place, by the 
side of which, to the child himself, all other 
events sink into insignificance. It is not 
one that is recognized and chronicled by 
the world, for it is wholly unconnected 
with action. No one but the child is 
aware of its occurrence, and he never 
speaks of it to others. Yet to that child 
it marks an epoch. So intensely individual 
does it seem that the boy is afraid to avow 
it, while in reality so universal is it that 
probably no human being has escaped its 
influence. Though subjective purely, it 
has more vividness than any external 
event ; and though strictly intrinsic to life, 
it is more startling than any accident of 
fate or fortune. This experience of the 
boy's, at once so singular and yet so gen- 
eral, is nothing less than the sudden reve- 
lation to him one day of the fact of his 
own personality. 

Somewhere about the time when sensa- 




YOUNG JAPAN 



IND1 V1D UALIT F. 19 

tion is giving place to sensitiveness as the 
great self - educator, and the knowledge 
gained by the five bodily senses is being 
fused into the wisdom of that mental one 
we call common sense, the boy makes a 
discovery akin to the act of waking up. 
All at once he becomes conscious of him- 
self ; and the consciousness has about it a 
touch of the uncanny. Hitherto he has 
been aware only of matter; he now first 
realizes mind. Unwarned, unprepared, he 
is suddenly ushered before being, and 
stands awe struck in the presence of 
himself. 

If the introduction to his own identity 
was startling, there is nothing reassuring 
in the feeling that this strange acquaint- 
anceship must last. For continue it does. 
It becomes an unsought intimacy he can- 
not shake off. Like to his own shadow he 
cannot escape it. To himself a man can- 
not but be at home. For years this alter 
ego haunts him, for he imagines it an idio- 
syncrasy of his own, a morbid peculiarity 
he dare not confide to any one, for fear of 
being thought a fool. Not till long after- 
wards, when he has learned to live as a 
matter of course with his ever-present 



20 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ghost, does he discover that others have 
had like familiars themselves. 

Sometimes this dawn of consciousness is 
preceded by a long twilight of soul-awak- 
ening ; but sometimes, upon more sensitive 
and subtler natures, the light breaks with 
all the suddenness of a sunrise at the equa- 
tor, revealing to the mind's eye an unsus- 
pected world of self within. But in what- 
ever way we may awake to it, the sense of 
personality, when first realized, appears al- 
ready, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, 
full grown in the brain. From the mo- 
ment when we first remember ourselves we 
seem to be as old as we ever seem to others 
afterwards to become. We grow, indeed, 
in knowledge, in wisdom, in experience, as 
our years increase, but deep down in our 
heart of hearts we are still essentially the 
same. To be sure, people pay us more 
deference than they did, which suggests a 
doubt at times whether we may not have 
changed ; small boys of a succeeding gen- 
eration treat us with a respect that causes 
us inwardly to smile, as we think how lit- 
tle we differ from them, if they but knew 
it. For at bottom we are not conscious of 
change from that morning, long ago, when 



INDIVIDUALITY. 21 

first we realized ourselves. We feel just 
as young now as we felt old then. We are 
but amused at the world's discrimination 
where we can detect no difference. 

Every human being has been thus " twice 
born " : once as matter, once as mind. Nor 
is this second birth the birthright only of 
mankind. All the higher animals probably, 
possibly even the lower too, have experi- 
enced some such realization of individual 
identity. However that may be, certainly 
to all races of men has come this revela- 
tion ; only the degree in which they have 
felt its force has differed immensely. It is 
one thing to the apathetic, fatalistic Turk, 
and quite another matter to an energetic, 
nervous American. Facts, fancies, faiths, 
all show how wide is the variance in feel- 
ings. With them no introspective yv&Oi. 
o-e'avTov overexcites the consciousness of self. 
But with us, as with those of old possessed 
of devils, it comes to startle and stays to 
distress. Too apt is it to prove an ever- 
present, undesirable double. Too often 
does it play the part of uninvited spectre 
at the feast, whose presence no one save its 
unfortunate victim suspects. The haunt- 
ing horror of his own identity is to natures 



22 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

far less eccentric than Kenelm Chillingly's 
only too common a curse. To this com- 
panionship, paradoxical though it sound, is 
principally due the peculiar loneliness of 
childhood. For nothing is so isolating as 
a persistent idea which one dares not con- 
fide. 

And yet, stranger paradox still, was 
there ever any one willing to exchange his 
personality for another's ? Who can imag- 
ine foregoing his own self? Nay, do we 
not cling even to its outward appearance ? 
Is there a man so poor in all that man holds 
dear that he does not keenly resent being 
accidentally mistaken for his neighbor? 
Surely there must be something more than 
mirage in this deep-implanted, widespread 
instinct of human race. 

But however strong the conviction now 
of one's individuality, is there aught to as- 
sure him of its continuance beyond the con- 
fines of its present life ? Will it awake on 
death's morrow and know itself, or will it, 
like the body that gave it lodgment, disin- 
tegrate again into indistinguishable spirit 
dust ? Close upon the heels of the exist- 
ing consciousness of self treads the shadow- 
like doubt of its hereafter. Will analogy 




A TEMPLE IN THE HEART OF JAPAN 



INDIVIDUALITY. 23 

help to answer the grewsome riddle of the 
Sphinx? Are the laws we have learned 
to be true for matter true also for mind? 
Matter we now know is indestructible; yet 
the form of it with which we once were so 
fondly familiar vanishes never to return. 
Is a like fate to be the lot of the soul? 
That mind should be capable of annihila- 
tion is as inconceivable as that matter 
should cease to be. Surely the spirit we 
feel existing round about us on every side 
now has been from ever, and will be for 
ever to come. But that portion of it which 
we each know as self, is it not like to a 
drop of rain seen in its falling through the 
air ? Indistinguishable the particle was in 
the cloud whence it came; indistinguish- 
able it will become again in the ocean 
whither it is bound. Its personality is but 
its passing phase from a vast impersonal on 
the one hand to an equally vast impersonal 
on the other. Thus seers preached in the 
past ; so modern science is hinting to-day. 
With us the idea seems the bitter fruit of 
material philosophy ; by them it was looked 
upon as the fairest flower of their faith. 
What is dreaded now as the impious sug- 
gestion of the godless four thousand years 



24 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ago was reverenced as a sacred tenet of 
religion. 

Shorter even than his short threescore 
years and ten is that soul's life of which 
man is directly cognizant. Bounded by 
two seemingly impersonal states is the per- 
sonal consciousness of which he is made 
aware : the one the infantile existence that 
precedes his boyish discovery, the other 
the gloom that grows with years, two 
twilights that fringe the two borders of his 
day. But with the Far Oriental, life is all 
twilight. For in Japan and China both 
states are found together. There, side by 
side with the present unconsciousness of 
the babe exists the belief in a coming un- 
consciousness for the man. So inseparably 
blended are the two that the known truth 
of the one seems, for that very bond, to 
carry with it the credentials of the other. 
Can it be that the personal, progressive 
West is wrong, and the impersonal, impas- 
sive East right ? Surely not. Is the other 
side of the world in advance of us in mind- 
development, even as it precedes us in the 
time of day ; or just as our noon is its 
night, may it not be far in our rear? Is 
not its seeming wisdom rather the pre- 



INDIVID UALIT T. 25 

cociousness of what is destined never to go 
far? 

Brought suddenly upon such a civiliza- 
tion, after the blankness of a long ocean 
voyage, one is reminded instinctively of the 
feelings of that bewildered individual who, 
after a dinner at which he had eventually 
ceased to be himself, was by way of pleas- 
antry left out overnight in a graveyard, on 
their way home, by his humorously inclined 
companions ; and who, on awaking alone, 
in a still dubious condition, looked around 
him in surprise, rubbed his eyes two or 
three times to no purpose, and finally mut- 
tered in a tone of awe-struck conviction, 
" Well, either I 'm the first to rise, or I 'm 
a long way behind time ! " 

Whether their failure to follow the natu- 
ral course of evolution results in bringing 
them in at the death just the same or not, 
these people are now, at any rate, station- 
ary not very far from the point at which 
we all set out. They are still in that 
childish state of development before self- 
consciousness has spoiled the sweet simplic- 
ity of nature. An impersonal race seems 
never to have fully grown up. 

Partly for its own sake, partly for ours, 



26 THE SOUL OF T^HE FAR EAST. 

this most distinctive feature of the Far 
East, its marked impersonality, is well 
worthy particular attention ; for while it 
collaterally suggests pregnant thoughts 
about ourselves, it directly underlies the 
deeper oddities of a civilization which is 
the modern eighth wonder of the world. 
We shall see this as we look at what 
these people are, at what they were, and at 
what they hope to become ; not histor- 
ically, but psychologically, as one might 
perceive, were he but wise enough, in an 
acorn, besides the nut itself, two oaks, that 
one from which it fell, and that other 
which from it will rise. These three states, 
which we may call its potential past, pres- 
ent, and future, may be observed and stud- 
ied in three special outgrowths of a race's 
character : in its language, in its every-day 
thoughts, and in its religion. For in the 
language of a people we find embalmed 
the spirit of its past ; in its every - day 
thoughts, be they of arts or sciences, is 
wrapped up its present life ; in its religion 
lie enfolded its dreamings of a future. 
From out each of these three subjects in 
the Far East impersonality stares us in the 
face. Upon this quality as a foundation 



INDIVIDUALITY. 27 

rests the Far Oriental character. It is 
individually rather than nationally that 1 
propose to scan it now. It is the action of 
a particle in the wave of world - develop- 
ment I would watch, rather than the prop- 
agation of the wave itself. Inferences about 
the movement of the whole will follow of 
themselves a knowledge of the motion of 
its parts. 

But before we attack the subject esoter- 
ically, let us look a moment at 'the man as 
he appears in his relation to the commu- 
nity. Such a glance will suggest the pecu- 
liar atmosphere of impersonality that per- 
vades the people. 

However lacking in cleverness, in merit, 
or in imagination a man may be, there are 
in our Western world, if his existence there 
be so much as noticed at all, three occa- 
sions on which he appears in print. His 
birth, his marriage, and his death are all 
duly chronicled in type, perhaps as suffi- 
ciently typical of the general unimportance 
of his life. Mention of one's birth, it is 
true, is an aristocratic privilege, confined to 
the world of English society. In demo- 
cratic America, no doubt because all men 
there are supposed to be born free and 



28 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

equal, we ignore the first event, and mention 
only the last two episodes, about which our 
national astuteness asserts no such effacing 
equality. 

Accepting our newspaper record as a 
fair enough summary of the biography of 
an average man, let us look at these three 
momentous occasions in the career of a Far 
Oriental. 



II. 

FAMILY. 

IN the first place, then, the poor little 
Japanese baby is ushered into this world in 
a sadly impersonal manner, for he is not 
even accorded the distinction of a birthday. 
He is permitted instead only the much less 
special honor of a birth-year. Not that he 
begins his separate existence otherwise than 
is the custom of mortals generally, at a defi- 
nite instant of time, but that very little sub- 
sequent notice is ever taken of the fact. On 
the contrary, from the moment he makes 
his appearance he is spoken of as a year 
old, and this same age he continues to be 
considered in most simple ease of calcula- 
tion, till the beginning of the next calendar 
year. When that epoch of general rejoic- 
ing arrives, he is credited with another 
year himself. So is everybody else. New 
Year's day is a common birthday for the 
community, a sort of impersonal anniver- 



30 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

sary for his whole world. A like reckoning 
is followed in China and Korea. Upon the 
disadvantages of being considered from 
one's birth up at least one year and pos- 
sibly two older than me really is, it lies 
beyond our present purpose to expatiate. It 
is quite evident that woman has had no voice 
in the framing of such a chronology. One 
would hardly imagine that man had either, 
so astronomic is the system. A commu- 
nistic age is however but an unavoidable 
detail of the general scheme whose most 
suggestive feature consists in the subordi- 
nation of the actual birthday of the indi- 
vidual to the fictitious birthday of the 
community. For it is not so much the 
want of commemoration shown the subject 
as the character of the commemoration 
which is significant. Some slight notice is 
indeed paid to birthdays during early 
childhood, but even then their observance 
is quite secondary in importance to that of 
the great impersonal anniversaries of the 
third day of the third moon and the fifth 
day of the fifth moon. These two oc- 
casions celebrated the coming of human- 
ity into the world with an impersonality 
worthy of the French revolutionary calen- 




FESTIVAL OF FISHES 



FAMILY. 31 

dar. The first of them is called the festi- 
val of girls, and commemorates the birth of 
girls generally, the advent of the universal 
feminine, as one may say. The second is a 
corresponding anniversary for boys. Owing 
to its sex, the latter is the greater event of 
the two, and in consequence of its most 
conspicuous feature is styled the festival of 
fishes. The fishes are hollow paper images 
of the " tai " from four to six feet in length, 
tied to the top of a long pole planted in 
the ground and tipped with a gilded ball. 
Holes in the paper at the mouth and the tail 
enable the wind to inflate the body so that 
it floats about horizontally, swaying hither 
and thither, and tugging at the line after 
the manner of a living thing. The fish are 
emblems of good luck, and are set up in the 
courtyard of every house where a son has 
been born during the year. On this auspi- 
cious day Tokio is suddenly transformed 
into eighty square miles of aquarium. 

For any more personal purpose New 
Year's day eclipses all particular anniversa- 
ries. Then everybody congratulates every- 
body else upon everything in general, and 
incidentally upon being alive. Such sub- 
stitution of an abstract for a concrete birth- 



32 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

day, although exceedingly convenient for 
others, must at least conduce to self-forget- 
fulness on the part of its proper possessor, 
and tend inevitably to merge the identity 
of the individual in that of the community. 

It fares hardly better with the Far Ori- 
ental in the matter of marriage. Although 
he is, as we might think, the person most 
interested in the result, he is permitted no 
say in the affair whatever. In fact, it is 
not his affair at all, but his father's. His 
hand is simply made a cat's-paw of. The 
-matter is entirely a business transaction, 
entered into by the parent and conducted 
through regular marriage brokers. In it 
he plays only the part of a marionette. 
His revenge for being thus bartered out of 
what might be the better half of his life, 
he takes eventually on the next succeeding 
generation. 

His death may be said to be the most 
important act of his whole life. For then 
only can his personal existence be properly 
considered to begin. By it he joins the 
great company of ancestors who are to these 
people of almost more consequence than 
living folk, and of much more individual 
distinction. Particularly is this the case 



FAMILY. 33 

in China and Korea, but the same respect, 
though in a somewhat less rigid form, is 
paid the dead in Japan. Then at last the 
individual receives that recognition which 
was denied him in the flesh. In Japan a 
mortuary tablet is set up to him in the 
house and duly worshipped ; on the con- 
tinent the ancestors are given a dwelling of 
their own, and even more devotedly rever- 
enced. But in both places the cult is any- 
thing but funereal. For the ancestral tombs 
are temples and pleasure pavilions at the 
fame time, consecrated not simply to rites 
and ceremonies, but to family gatherings 
and general jollification. And the fortu- 
nate defunct must feel, if he is still half as 
sentient as his dutiful descendants suppose, 
that his earthly life, like other approved 
comedies, has ended well. 

Important, however, as these critical 
points in his career may be reckoned by 
his relatives, they are scarcely calculated to 
prove equally epochal to the man himself. 
In a community where next to no note is 
ever taken of the anniversary of his birth, 
some doubt as to the special significance 
of that red-letter day may not unnaturally 
creep into his own mind. While in regard 
to his death, although it may be highly 



34 TUB SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

flattering for him to knpw that he will cer- 
tainly become somebody when he shall have 
ceased, practically, to be anybody, such 
tardy recognition is scarcely timely enough 
to be properly appreciated. Human nature 
is so earth-tied, after all, that a post-mun- 
dane existence is very apt to seem imma- 
terial as well as be so. 

With the old familiar landmarks of life 
obliterated in this wholesale manner, it is 
to be doubted whether one of us, placed in 
the midst of such a civilization, would know 
himself. He certainly would derive but 
scanty satisfaction from the recognition if 
he did. Even Nirvana might seem a happy 
limbo by comparison. With a communal, 
not to say a cosmic, birthday, and a con- 
ventional wife, he might well deem his 
separate existence the shadow of a shade 
and embrace Buddhism from mere force of 
circumstances. 

Further investigation would not shake 
his opinion. For a far-oriental career is 
thoroughly in keeping with these, its typi- 
cal turning-points. From one end of its 
course to the other it is painfully imper- 
sonal. In its regular routine as in its more 
salient junctures, life presents itself to these 
races a totally different affair from what it 



FAMILY. 35 

seems to us. The cause lies in what is 
taken to be the basis of socio-biology, if 
one may so express it. 

In the Far East the social unit, the ulti- 
mate molecule of existence, is not the indi- 
vidual, but the family. 

We occidentals think we value family. 
We even parade our pretensions so promi- 
nently as sometimes to tread on other peo- 
ple's prejudices of a like nature. Yet we 
scarcely seem to appreciate the inheritance. 
For with a logic which does us questionable 
credit, we are proud of our ancestors in 
direct proportion to their remoteness from 
ourselves, thus permitting Democracy to 
revenge its insignificance by smiling at our 
self-imposed satire. To esteem a man in 
inverse ratio to the amount of remarkable 
blood he has inherited is, to say the least, 
bathetic. Others, again, make themselves 
objectionable by preferring their immediate 
relatives to all less connected companions, 
and cling to their cousins so closely that 
affection often culminates in matrimony, 
nature's remonstrances notwithstanding. 
But with all the pride or pleasure which 
we take in the members of our particular 
clan, our satisfaction really springs from 
viewing them on an autocentric theory of 



36 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the social system. In our own eyes we are 
the star about which, as in Joseph's dream, 
our relatives revolve and upon which they 
help to shed an added lustre. Our Ptole- 
maic theory of society is necessitated by 
our tenacity to the personal standpoint. 
This fixed idea of ours causes all else seem- 
ingly to rotate about it. Such an egoistic 
conception is quite foreign to our longitu- 
dinal antipodes. However much appear- 
ances may agree, the fundamental principles 
upon which family consideration is based 
are widely different in the two hemispheres. 
For the far-eastern social universe turns on 
a patricentric pivot. 

Upon the conception of the family as the 
social and political unit depends the whole 
constitution of China. The same theory 
somewhat modified constitutes the life-prin- 
ciple of Korea, of Japan, and of their less ad- 
vanced cousins who fill the vast centre of the 
Asiatic continent. From the emperor on his 
throne to the common coolie in his hovel it 
is the idea of kinship that knits the entire 
body politic together. The Empire is one 
great family ; the family is a little empire. 

The one developed out of the other. The 
patriarchal is, as is well known, probably 
the oldest political system in the world. 



FAMIL 7. 37 

All nations may be said to have experi- 
enced such a paternal government, but most 
nations outgrew it. 

Now the interesting fact about the yellow 
branch of the human race is, not that they 
had so juvenile a constitution, but that they 
have it; that it has persisted practically 
unchanged from prehistoric ages. It is 
certainly surprising in this kaleidoscopic 
world whose pattern is constantly changing 
as time merges one combination of its ele- 
ments into another, that on the other side 
of the globe this set should have remained 
the same. Yet in spite of the lapse of 
years, in spite of the altered conditions of 
existence, in spite of an immense advance 
in civilization, such a primitive state of 
society has continued there to the present 
day, in all its essentials what it was when 
as nomads the race forefathers wandered 
peacefully or otherwise over the plains of 
Central Asia. The principle helped them 
to expand ; it has simply cramped them 
ever since. For, instead of dissolving like 
other antiquated views, it has become, what 
it was bound to become if it continued to 
last, crystallized into an institution. It 
had practically reached this condition when 
it received a theoretical, not to say a theo- 



88 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

logical recognition which gave it mundane 
immortality. A couple of millenniums ago 
Confucius consecrated filial duty by mak- 
ing it the basis of the Chinese moral code. 
His hand was the finishing touch of fossil- 
ification. For since the sage set his seal 
upon the system no one has so much as 
dreamt of changing it. The idea of con- 
futing Confucius would be an act of impiety 
such as no Chinaman could possibly com- 
mit. Not that the inadmissibility of argu- 
ment is due really to the authority of the 
philosopher, but that it lies ingrained in 
the character of the people. Indeed the 
genius of the one may be said to have con- 
sisted in divining the genius of the other. 
Confucius formulated the prevailing prac- 
tice, and in so doing helped to make it per- 
petual. He gave expression to the national 
feeling, and like expressions, generally his, 
served to stamp the idea all the more in- 
delibly upon the national consciousness. 

In this manner the family from a natural 
relation grew into a highly unnatural social 
anachronism. The loose ties of a roving 
life became fetters of a fixed convention- 
ality. Bonds originally of mutual advan- 
tage hardened into restrictions by which 
the young were hopelessly tethered to the 



FAMILY. 39 

old. Midway in its course the race under- 
took to turn round and face backwards, as 
it journeyed on. Its subsequent advance 
could be nothing but slow. 

The head of a family is so now in some- 
thing of a corporeal sense. From him 
emanate all its actions ; to him are respon- 
sible all its parts. Any other member of 
it is as incapable of individual expression 
as is the hand, or the foot, or the eye of 
man. Indeed, Confucian doctors of divin- 
ity might appropriately administer psychi- 
cally to the egoistic the rebuke of the 
Western physician to the too self-analytic 
youth who, finding that, after eating, his 
digestion failed to give him what he consid- 
ered its proper sensations, had come to con- 
sult the doctor as to how it ought to feel. 
" Feel ! young man," he was answered, 
" you ought not to be aware that you have 
a digestion." So with them, a normally 
constituted son knows not what it is to 
possess a spontaneity of his own. Indeed, 
this very word "own," which so long ago 
in our own tongue took to itself the symbol 
of possession, well exemplifies his depen- 
dent state. China furnishes the most con- 
spicuous instance of the want of individual 
rights. A Chinese son cannot properly be 



40 THE SOUL OF TEE FAR EAST. 

said to own anything. The title to the 
land he tills is vested absolutely in the fam- 
ily, of which he is an undivided thirtieth, 
or what-not. Even the administration of 
the property is not his, but resides in the 
family, represented by its head. The out- 
ward symbols of ownership testify to the 
fact. The bourns that mark the bounda- 
ries of the fields bear the names of fami- 
lies, not of individuals. The family, as 
such, is the proprietor, and its lands are 
cultivated and enjoyed in common by all 
the constituents of the clan. In the ten- 
ure of its real estate, the Chinese family 
much resembles the Russian Mir. But so 
far as his personal state is concerned, the 
Chinese son outslaves the Slav. For he 
lives at home, under the immediate control 
of the paternal will in the most complete 
of serfdoms, a filial one. Even existence 
becomes a communal affair. From the 
family mansion, or set of mansions, in 
which all its members dwell, to the family 
mausoleum, to which they will all eventu- 
ally be borne, a man makes his life journey 
in strict company with his kin. 

A man's life is thus but an undivisible 
fraction of the family life. How essen- 




THE OLDER SISTER 



FAMILY. 41 

tially so will appear from the following 
slight sketch of it. 

To begin at the beginning, his birth is a 
very important event for the household, 
at which no one fails to rejoice except the 
new-comer. He cries. The general joy, 
however, depends somewhat upon his sex. 
If the baby chances to be a boy, every- 
body is immensely pleased ; if a girl, there 
is considerably less effusion shown. In 
the latter case the more impulsive rela- 
tives are unmistakably sorry ; the more 
philosophic evidently hope for better luck 
next time. Both kinds make very pretty 
speeches, which not even the speakers be- 
lieve, for in the babe lottery the family is 
considered to have drawn a blank. A 
delight so engendered proves how little of 
the personal, even in prospective, attaches 
to its object. The reason for the invidious 
distinction in the matter of sex lies of 
course in an inordinate desire for the per- 
petuation of the family line. The unfortu- 
nate infant is regarded merely in the light 
of a possible progenitor. A boy is already 
potentially a father; whereas a girl, if she 
marry at all, is bound to marry out of her 
own family into another, and is relatively 



42 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

lost. The full force of the deprivation is, 
however, to some degree tempered by the 
almost infinite possibilities of adoption. 
Daughters are, therefore, not utterly immiti- 
gable evils. 

From the privacy of the domestic circle, 
the infant's entrance into public life is per- 
formed pick-a-back. Strapped securely to 
the shoulders of a slightly older sister, out 
he goes, consigned to the tender mercies of 
a being who is scarcely more than a baby 
herself. The diminutiveness of the nurse- 
perambulators is the most surprising part 
of the performance. The tiniest of tots 
may be seen thus toddling round with 
burdens half their own size. Like the dot 
upon the little i, the baby's head seems a 
natural part of their childish ego. 

An economy of the kind in the matter of 
nurses is highly suggestive. That it should 
be practicable thus to entrust one infant to 
another proves the precociousness of chil- 
dren. But this surprising maturity of the 
young implies by a law too well known 
to need explanation, the consequent imma- 
turity of the race. That which has less 
to grow up to, naturally grows up to its 
limit sooner. It may even be questioned 



FAMIL Y. 43 

whether it does not do so with the more 
haste ; on the same principle that a runner 
who has less distance to travel not only 
accomplishes his course quicker, but moves 
with relatively greater speed, or as a small 
planet grows old not simply sooner, but 
comparatively faster than a larger one. 
Jupiter is still in his fiery youth, while the 
moon is senile in decrepid old age, and yet 
his separate existence began long before 
hers. Either hypothesis will explain the 
abnormally early development of the Chi- 
nese race, and its subsequent career of in- 
activity. Meanwhile the youthful nurse, in 
blissful ignorance of the evidence which 
her present precocity affords against her 
future possibilities, pursues her sports with 
intermittent attention to her charge, whose 
poor little head lolls about, now on one side 
and now on the other, in a most distress- 
ingly loose manner, an uninterested specta- 
tor of the proceedings. 

As soon as the babe gets a trifle bigger 
he ceases to be ministered to and begins his 
long course of ministering to others. His 
home life consists of attentive subordina- 
tion. The relation his obedience bears to 
that of children elsewhere is paralleled per- 



44 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

haps sufficiently by the comparative im- 
portance attached to precepts on the sub- 
ject in the respective moral codes. The 
commandment " honor thy father " forms 
a tithe of the Mosaic law, while the same 
injunction constitutes at least one half of 
the Confucian precepts. To the Chinese 
child all the parental commands are not 
simply law to the letter, they are to be an- 
ticipated in the spirit. To do what he is 
told is but the merest fraction of his duty ; 
theoretically his only thought is how to 
serve his sire. The pious ^Eneas escaping 
from Troy exemplifies his conduct when 
it comes to a question of domestic prece- 
dence, whose first care, it will be remem- 
bered, was for his father, his next for his 
son, and his last for his wife. He lost his 
wife, it may be noted in passing. Filial 
piety is the greatest of Chinese virtues. 
Indeed, an undutiful son is a monstrosity, 
a case of moral deformity. It could now 
hardly be otherwise. For a father sums 
up in propria persona a whole pedigree of 
patriarchs whose superimposed weight of 
authority is practically divine. This con- 
dition of servitude is never outgrown by 
the individual, as it has never been out- 
grown by the race. 



FAMIL Y. 45 

Our boy now begins to go to school; to 
a day school, it need hardly be specified, for 
a boarding school would be entirely out of 
keeping with the family life. Here, he is 
given the " Trimetrical Classic " to start 
on, that he may learn the characters by 
heart, picking up incidentally what ideas 
he may. This book is followed by the 
" Century of Surnames," a catalogue of all 
the clan names in China, studied like the 
last for the sake of the characters, although 
the suggestion of the importance of the 
family contained in it is probably not lost 
upon his youthful mind. Next comes the 
" Thousand Character Classic," a wonder- 
ful epic as a feat of skill, for of the thou- 
sand characters which it contains not a sin- 
gle one is repeated, an absence of tautol- 
ogy not properly appreciated by the en- 
forced reader. Reminiscences of our own 
school days vividly depict the consequent 
disgust, instead of admiration, of the boy. 
Three more books succeed these first 
volumes, differing from one another in 
form, but in substance singularly alike, 
treating, as they all do, of history and eth- 
ics combined. For tales and morals are 
inseparably associated by pious antiquity. 



46 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Indeed, the past would seem to have lived 
with special reference to the edification of 
the future. Chinamen were abnormally 
virtuous in those golden days, barring the 
few unfortunates whom fate needed as 
warning examples of depravity for succeed- 
ing ages. Except for the fact that instruc- 
tion as to a future life forms no part of the 
curriculum, a far-eastern education may be 
said to consist of Sunday-school every day 
in the week. For no occasion is lost by 
the erudite authors, even in the most 
worldly portions of their work, for preach- 
ing a slight homily on the subject in hand. 
The dictum of Dionysius of Halicarnassus 
that " history is philosophy teaching by 
example" would seem there to have be- 
come modified into " history is filiosophy 
teaching by example." For in the instruc- 
tive anecdotes every other form of merit is 
depicted as second to that of being a dutiful 
son. To the practice of that supreme vir- 
tue all other considerations are sacrificed. 
The student's aim is thus kept single. 
At every turn of the leaves, paragons of 
filial piety shame the youthful reader to 
the pitch of emulation by the epitaphic 
records of their deeds. Portraits of the 



FAMILY. 47 

past, possibly colored, present that estima- 
ble trait in so exalted a type that to any 
less filial a people they would simply deter 
competition. Yet the boy implicitly be- 
lieves and no doubt resolves to rival what 
he reads. A specimen or two will amply 
suggest the rest. In one tale the hero is 
held up to the unqualified admiration of pos- 
terity for having starved to death his son, in 
an extreme case of family destitution, for 
the sake of providing food enough for his 
aged father. In another he unhesitatingly 
divorces his wife for having dared to poke 
fun, in the shape of bodkins, at some 
wooden effigies of his parents which he had 
had set up in the house for daily devotional 
contemplation. Finally another paragon 
actually sells himself in perpetuity as a slave 
that he may thus procure the wherewithal 
to bury with due honor his anything but 
worthy progenitor, who had first cheated his 
neighbors and then squandered his ill-got- 
ten gains in riotous living. Of these tales, 
as of certain questionable novels in a 
slightly different line, the eventual moral 
is considered quite competent to redeem 
the general immorality of the plot. 

Along such a curriculum the youthful 



48 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Chinaman is made to run. A very similar 
system prevails in Japan, the difference be- 
tween the two consisting in quantity rather 
than quality. The books in the two cases 
are much the same, and the amount read 
differs surprisingly little when we consider 
that in the one case it is his own classics 
the student is reading, in the other the 
Chinaman's. 

If he belong to the middle class, as soon 
as his schooling is over he is set to learn 
his father's trade. To undertake to learn 
any trade but his father's would strike 
the family as simply preposterous. Why 
should he adopt another line of business ? 
And, if he did, what other business should 
he adopt? Is his father's occupation not 
already there, a part of the existing or- 
der of things ; and is he not the son of bis 
father and heir therefore of the paternal 
skill? Not that such inherited aptness is 
recognized scientifically ; it is simply taken 
for granted instinctively. It is but a half- 
hearted intuition, however, for the possibil- 
ity of an inheritance from the mother's side 
is as out of the question as if her severance 
from her own family had an ex post facto 
effect. As for his individual predilection 



FAMILY, 49 

in the matter, nature has considerately con- 
formed to custom by giving him none. He 
becomes a cabinet-maker, for instance, be- 
cause his ancestors always have been cabi- 
net-makers. He inherits the family busi- 
ness as a necessary part of the family name. 
He is born to his trade, not naturally se- 
lected because of his fitness for it. But he 
usually is amply qualified for the position, 
for generations of practice, if only on one 
side of the house, accumulate a vast deal 
of technical skill. The result of this sys- 
tem of clan guilds in all branches of indus- 
try is sufficiently noticeable. The almost 
infinite superiority of Japanese artisans over 
their European fellow-craftsmen is world- 
known. On the other hand the tendency of 
the occupation in the abstract to swallow up 
the individual in the concrete is as evident 
to theory as it is patent in practice. Event- 
ually the man is lost in the manner. The 
very names of trades express the fact. The 
Japanese word for cabinet-maker, for exam' 
pie, means literally cutting-thing-house, and 
is now applied as distinctively to the man 
as to his shop. Nominally as well as prac- 
tically the youthful Japanese artisan makes 
his introduction to the world, much after 



60 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the manner of the hero of Lecocq's comic 
opera, the son of the house of Marasquin et 
Cie. 

If instead of belonging to the lower mid- 
dle class our typical youth be born of bluer 
blood, or if he be filled with the same de- 
sires as if he were so descended, he be- 
comes a student. Having failed to discover 
in the school-room the futility of his coun- 
try's self-vaunted learning, he proceeds to 
devote his life to its pursuit. With an ap- 
plication which is eminently praiseworthy, 
even if its object be not, he sets to work to 
steep himself in the classics till he can per- 
ceive no merit in anything else. As might 
be suspected, he ends by discovering in the 
sayings of the past more meaning than the 
simple past ever dreamed of putting there. 
He becomes more Confucian than Confu- 
cius. Indeed, it is fortunate for the repu- 
tation of the sage that he cannot return to 
earth, for he might disagree to his detri- 
ment with his own commentators. 

Such is the state of things in China and 
Korea. Learning, however, is not depend- 
ent solely on individual interest for its 
wonderfully flourishing condition in the 
Middle Kingdom, for the government abets 



FAMILY. 51 

the practice to its utmost. It is itself the 
supreme sanction, for its posts are the 
prizes of proficiency. Through the study 
of the classics lies the only entrance to po- 
litical power. To become a mandarin one 
must have passed a series of competitive 
examinations on these very subjects, and 
competition in this impersonal field is most 
keen. For while popular enthusiasm for 
philosophy for philosophy's sake might, 
among any people, eventually show symp- 
toms of fatigue, it is not likely to flag 
where the outcome of it is so substantial. 
Erudition carries there all earthly emolu- 
ments in its train. For the man who can 
write the most scholastic essay on the clas- 
sics is forthwith permitted to amass much 
honor and more wealth by wronging his 
less accomplished fellow-citizens. China is 
a student's paradise where the possession of 
learning is instantly convertible into un- 
limited pelf. 

In Japan the study of the classics was 
never pursued professionally. It was, how- 
ever, prosecuted with much zeal en amateur. 
The Chinese bureaucratic system has been 
wanting. For in spite of her students, un- 
til within thirty years Japan slumbered still 



52 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

in the Knight-time of the Middle Ages, and 
so long as a man carried about with him con- 
tinually two beautiful swords he felt it in- 
cumbent upon him to use them. The happy 
days of knight-errantry have passed. These 
same cavaliers of Samurai are now thank- 
ful to police the streets in spectacles neces- 
sitated by the too diligent study of German 
text, and arrest chance disturbers of the 
public peace for a miserably small salary 
per month. 

Our youth has now reached the flower- 
ing season of life, that brief May time when 
the whole world takes on the rose-tint, and 
when by all dramatic laws he ought to fall 
in love. He does nothing of the kind. 
Sad to say, he is a stranger to the feeling. 
Love, as we understand the word, is a thing 
unknown to the Far East ; fortunately, in- 
deed, for the possession there of the tender 
passion would be worse than useless. Its 
indulgence would work no end of disturb- 
ance to the community at large, beside 
entailing much misery upon its individ- 
ual victim. Its exercise would probably 
be classed with kleptomania and other like 
excesses of purely personal consideration. 
The community could never permit the 



FAMILY. 53 

practice, for it strikes at the very root of 
their whole social system. 

The immense loss in happiness to these 
people in consequence of the omission by 
the too parsimonious Fates of that thread, 
which, with us, spins the whole of woman's 
web of life, and at least weaves the warp 
of man's, is but incidental to the present 
subject ; the effect of the loss upon the in- 
dividuality of the person himself is what 
concerns us now. 

If there is one moment in a man's life 
when his interest for the world at large 
pales before the engrossing character of his 
own emotions, it is assuredly when that 
man first falls in love. Then, if never be- 
fore, the world within excludes the world 
without. For of all our human passions 
none is so isolating as the tenderest. To 
shut that one other being in, we must of ne- 
cessity shut all the rest of mankind out ; and 
we do so with a reckless trust in our own 
self-sufficiency which has about it a touch 
of the sublime. The other millions are as 
though they were not, and we two are alone 
in the earth, which suddenly seems to have 
grown unprecedented ly beautiful. Indeed, 
it only needs such judicious depopulation to 



64 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

make of any spot an Eden. Perhaps the 
early Jewish myth-makers had some such 
thought in mind when they wrote their idyl 
of the cosmogony. The human traits are 
true to-day. Then at last our souls throw 
aside their conventional wrappings to stand 
revealed as they really are. Certain of com- 
prehension, the thoughts we have never 
dared breathe to any one before, find a 
tongue for her who seems fore-destined to 
understand. The long-closed floodgates of 
feeling are thrown wide, and our personal- 
ity, pent up from the time of its inception 
for very mistrust, sweeps forth in one uncon- 
trollable rush. For then the most reticent 
becomes confiding ; the most self-contained 
expands. Then every detail of our past 
lives assumes an importance which even we 
had not divined. To her we tell them all, 
our boyish beliefs, our youthful fancies, the 
foolish with the fine, the witty with the 
wise, the little with the great. Nothing 
then seems quite unworthy, as nothing 
seems quite worthy enough. Flowers and 
weeds that we plucked upon our pathway, 
we heap them in her lap, certain that even 
the poorest will not be tossed aside. Small 
wonder that we bring as many as we may 



FAMILY. 55 

when she bends her head so lovingly to 
each. 

As our past rises in reminiscence with all 
its oldtime reality, no less clearly does our 
future stand out to us in mirage. What 
we would be seems as realizable as what we 
were. Seen by another beside ourselves, 
our castles in the air take on something of 
the substance of stereoscopic sight. Our 
airiest fancies seem solid facts for their re- 
ality to her, and gilded by lovelight, they 
glitter and sparkle like a true palace of the 
East. For once all is possible ; nothing lies 
beyond our reach. And as we talk, and 
she listens, we two seern to be floating off 
into an empyrean of our own like the sum- 
mer clouds above our heads, as they sail 
dreamily on into the far-away depths of the 
unfathomable sky. 

It would be more than mortal not to be- 
lieve in ourselves when another believes so 
absolutely in us. Our most secret thoughts 
are no longer things to be ashamed of, for 
she has sanctioned them. Whatever doubt 
may have shadowed us as to our own im- 
aginings disappears before the smile of her 
appreciation. That her appreciation may 
be prejudiced is not a possibility we think 



56 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

of then. She understands us, or seems to 
do so to our own better understanding of 
ourselves. Happy the man who is thus un- 
derstood! Happy even he who imagines 
that he is, because of her eager wish to com- 
prehend ; fortunate, indeed, if in this one 
respect he never comes to see too clearly. 

No such blissful infatuation falls to the 
lot of the Far Oriental. He never is the 
dupe of his own desire, the willing victim 
of his self-illusion. He is never tempted to 
reveal himself, and by thus revealing, real- 
ize. No loving appreciation urges him on 
toward the attainment of his own ideal. 
That incitement to be what he would seem 
to be, to become what she deems becoming, 
he fails to feel. Custom has so far fettered 
fancy that even the wish to communicate 
has vanished. He has now nothing to tell ; 
she needs no ear to hear. For she is not 
his love ; she is only his wife, what is left 
of a romance when the romance is left out. 
Worse still, she never was anything else. 
He has not so much as a memory of her, for 
he did not marry her for love ; he may not 
love of his own accord, nor for the matter 
of that does he wish to do so. If by some 
mischance he should so far forget to forget 



FAMILY. 57 

himself, it were much better for him had he 
not done so, for the choice of a bride is not 
his, nor of a bridegroom hers. Marriage to 
a Far Oriental is the most important mer- 
cantile transaction of his whole life. It is, 
therefore, far too weighty a matter to be 
entrusted to his youthful indiscretion ; for 
although the person herself is of lamentably 
little account in the bargain, the character 
of her worldly circumstances is most mate- 
rial to it. So she is contracted for with the 
3ame care one would exercise in the choice 
of any staple business commodity. The 
particular sample is not vital to the trade, 
but the grade of goods is. She is selected 
much as the bride of the Vicar of Wake- 
field chose her wedding- gown, only that 
the one was at least cut to suit, while the 
other is not. It is certainly easier, if less 
fitting, to get a wife as some people do 
clothes, not to their own order, but ready 
made; all the more reason when the bar- 
gain is for one's son, not one's self. So the 
Far East, which looks at the thing from a 
strictly paternal standpoint and ignores 
such trifles as personal preferences, takes 
its boy to the broker's and fits him out. 
That the object of such parental care does 



58 TEE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

not end by murdering his unfortunate 
spouse or making way with himself sug- 
gests how dead already is that individuality 
which we deem to be of the very essence of 
the thing. 

Marriage is thus a species of investment 
contracted by the existing family for the 
sake of the prospective one, the actual par- 
ticipants being only lay figures in the 
affair. Sometimes the father decides the 
matter himself; sometimes he or the rela- 
tive who stands in loco parentis calls for a 
plebiscit on the subject ; for such an ex- 
tension of the suffrage has gradually crept 
even into patriarchal institutions. The 
family then assemble, sit in solemn con- 
clave on the question, and decide it by 
vote. Of course the interested parties are 
not asked their opinion, as it might be pre- 
judiced. The result of the conference must 
be highly gratifying. To have one's wife 
chosen for one by vote of one's relatives 
cannot but be satisfactory to the electors. 
The outcome of this ballot, like that of uni- 
versal suffrage elsewhere, is at the best un- 
objectionable mediocrity. Somehow such 
a result does not seem quite to fulfil one's 
ideal of a wife. It is true that the upper 



FAMILY. 59 

classes of impersonal France practise this 
method of marital selection, their conseils 
de famille furnishing in some sort a par- 
allel. But, as is well known, matrimony 
among these same upper classes is largely 
form devoid of substance. It begins im- 
pressively with a dual ceremony, the civil 
contract, which amounts to a contract of 
civility between the parties, and a religious 
rite to render the same perpetual, and there 
it is too apt to end. 

So much for the immediate influence on 
the man ; the eventual effect on the race 
remains to be considered. Now, if the first 
result be anything, the second must in the 
end be everything. For however trifling 
it be in the individual instance, it goes on 
accumulating with each successive genera- 
tion, like compound interest. The choosing 
of a wife by family suffrage is not simply 
an exponent of the impersonal state of 
things, it is a power toward bringing such 
a state of things about. A hermit seldom 
develops to his full possibilities, and the 
domestic variety is no exception to the rule. 
A man who is linked to some one that 
toward him remains a cipher lacks sur- 
roundings inciting to psychological growth, 



60 TEE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

nor is he more favorably circumstanced be- 
cause all his ancestors have been similarly 
circumscribed. 

As if to make assurance doubly sure, 
natural selection here steps in to further 
the process. To prove this with all the 
rigidity of demonstration desirable is in the 
present state of erotics beyond our power. 
Until our family trees give us something 
more than mere skeletons of dead branches, 
we must perforce continue ignorant of the 
science of grafts. For the nonce we must 
be content to generalize from our own 
premises, only rising above them sufficiently 
to get a bird's-eye view of our neighbor's 
estates. Such a survey has at least one 
advantage : the whole field of view appears 
perfectly plain. 

Surveying the subject, then, from this 
ego-altruistic position, we can perceive why 
matrimony, as we practise it, should result 
in increasing the personality of our race: 
for the reason namely that psychical sim- 
ilarity determines the selection. At first 
sight, indeed, such a natural affinity would 
seem to have little or nothing to do with 
marriage. As far as outsiders are capable 
of judging, unlikes appear to fancy one 



FAMILY. 61 

another quite as gratuitously as do likes. 
Connubial couples are often anything but 
twin souls. Yet our own dual use of the 
word " like " bears historic witness to the 
contrary. For in this expression we have 
a record from early Gothic times that men 
liked others for being like themselves. 
Since then, our feelings have not changed 
materially, although our mode of showing 
them is slightly less intense. In those sim- 
ple days stranger and enemy were synony- 
mous terms, and their objects were received 
in a corresponding spirit. In our present 
refined civilization we hurl epithets instead 
of spears, and content ourselves with brand- 
ing as heterodox the opinions of another 
which do not happen to coincide with our 
own. The instinct of self -development 
naturally begets this self-sided view. We 
insensibly find those persons congenial 
whose ideas resemble ours, and gravitate to 
them, as leaves on a pond do to one another, 
nearer and nearer till they touch. Is it 
likely, then, that in the most important 
case of all the rule should suddenly cease to 
hold ? Is it to be presumed that even So- 
crates chose Xantippe for her remarkable 
contrarietv to himself ? 



62 THE 80 UL OF THE FAR EAfiT. 

Mere physical attraction is another mat- 
ter. Corporeally considered, men not in- 
frequently fall in love with their opposites, 
the phenomenally tall with the painfully 
short, the unnecessarily stout with the dis- 
tressingly slender. But even such inartis- 
tic juxtapositions are much less common 
than we are apt at times to think. For it 
must never be forgotten that the excep- 
tional character of the phenomena renders 
them conspicuous, the customary more con- 
sorted combinations failing to excite atten- 
tion. 

Besides, there exists a reason for physical 
incongruity which does not hold psychi- 
cally. Nature sanctions the one while she 
discountenances the other. Instead of the 
forethought she once bestowed upon the 
body, it receives at her hands now but the 
scantiest attention. Its development has 
ceased to be an object with her. For some 
time past almost all her care has been de- 
voted to the evolution of the soul. The 
consequence is that physically man is much 
less specialized than many other animals. 
In other words, he is bodily less advanced 
in the race for competitive extermination. 
He belongs to an antiquated, inefficient type 



FAMILY. 63 

of mammal. His organism is still of the 
jack-of -all-trades pattern, such as prevailed 
generally in the more youthful stages of 
organic life one not specially suited to 
any particular pursuit. Were it not for 
his cerebral convolutions he could not com- 
pete for an instant in the struggle for exist- 
ence, and even the monkey would reign in 
his stead. But brain is more effective than 
biceps, and a being who can kill his oppo- 
nent farther off than he can see him evi- 
dently needs no great excellence of body to 
survive his foe. 

The field of competition has thus been 
transferred from matter to mind, but the 
fight has lost none of its keenness in con- 
sequence. With the same zeal with which 
advantageous anatomical variations were 
seized upon and perpetuated, psychical ones 
are now grasped and rendered hereditary. 
Now if opposites were to fancy and wed 
one another, such fortunate improvements 
would soon be lost. They would be scat- 
tered over the community at large even if 
they escaped entire neutralization. To pre- 
vent so disastrous a result nature implants 
a desire for resemblance, which desire man 
instinctively acts upon. 



64 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Complete compatibility of temperament 
is of course a thing not to be expected nor 
indeed to be desired, since it would defeat 
its own end by allowing no room for varia- 
tion. A fairly broad basis of agreement, 
however, exists even when least suspected. 
This common ground of content consists 
of those qualities held to be most essential 
by the individuals concerned, although not 
necessarily so appearing to other people. 
Sometimes, indeed, these qualities are still 
in the larvse state of desires. They are none 
the less potent upon the man's personality 
on that account, for the wish is always 
father to its own fulfilment. 

The want of conjugal resemblance not 
only works mediately on the child, it works 
mutually on the parents; for companionship, 
as is well recognized, tends to similarity. 
Now companionship is the last thing to be 
looked for in a far-eastern couple. Where 
custom requires a wife to follow dutifully 
in the wake of her husband, whenever the 
two go out together, there is small opportu- 
nity for intercourse by the way, even were 
there the slightest inclination to it, which 
there is not. The appearance of the pair 
on an excursion is a walking satire on socia- 



FAMIL Y. 65 

bility, for the comicality of the connection 
is quite unperceived by the performers. In 
the privacy of the domestic circle the sepa- 
ration, if less humorous, is no less complete. 
Each lives in a world of his own, largely 
separate in fact in China and Korea, and 
none the less in fancy in Japan. On the 
continent a friend of the husband would see 
little or nothing of the wife, and even in 
Japan he would meet her much as we meet 
an upper servant in a friend's house. Such 
a semi-attached relationship does not con- 
duce to much mutual understanding. 

The remainder of our hero's uneventful 
existence calls for no particular comment. 
As soon as he has children borne him he 
is raised ipso facto from the position of a 
common soldier to that of a subordinate 
officer in the family ranks. But his oppor- 
tunities for the expression of individuality 
are not one whit increased. He has simply 
advanced a peg in a regular hierarchy of 
subjection. From being looked after him- 
self he proceeds to look after others. Such 
is the extent of the change. Even should 
he chance to be the eldest son of the eldest 
son, and thus eventually end by becom- 
ing the head of the family, he cannot con- 



66 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

sistently consider himself. There is abso- 
lutely no place in his social cosmos for so 
particular a thing as the ego. 

With a certain grim humor suggestive of 
metaphysics, it may be said of his whole 
life that it is nothing but a relative affair 
after all. 



HI. 

ADOPTION. 

BUT one may go a step farther in this 
matter of the family, and by so doing fare 
still worse with respect to individuality. 
There are certain customs in vogue among 
these peoples which would seem to indicate 
that even so generic a thing as the family 
is too personal to serve them for ultimate 
social atom, and that in fact it is only the 
idea of the family that is really important, 
a case of abstraction of an abstract. These 
suggestive customs are the far- eastern prac- 
tices of adoption and abdication. 

Adoption, with us, is a kind of domestic 
luxury, akin to the keeping of any other 
pets, such as lap-dogs and canaries. It is a 
species of self-indulgence which those who 
can afford it give themselves when fortune 
has proved unpropitious, an artificial meth- 
od of counteracting the inequalities of fate. 
That such is the plain unglamoured view of 



68 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the procedure is shown by the age at which 
the object is adopted. Usually the future 
son or daughter enters the adoptive house- 
hold as an infant, intentionally so on the 
part of the would-be parents. His igno- 
rance of a previous relationship largely in- 
creases his relative value ; for the possibil- 
ity of his making comparisons in his own 
mind between a former state of existence 
and the present one unfavorable to the lat- 
ter is not pleasant for the adopters to con- 
template. He is therefore acquired young. 
The amusement derived from his company 
is thus seen to be distinctly paramount to 
all other considerations. No one cares so 
heartily to own a dog which has been the 
property of another ; a fortiori of a child. 
It is clearly, then, not as a necessity that 
the babe is adopted. If such were the case, 
if like the ancient Romans all a man want- 
ed was the continuance of the family line, 
he would naturally wait until the last prac- 
ticable moment ; for he would thus save 
both care and expense. In the Far East 
adoption is quite a different affair. There 
it is a genealogical necessity like having 
a father or mother. It is, indeed, of almost 
more importance. For the great desidera- 




A QUIET HOME 



ADOPTION. 69 

turn to these peoples is not ancestors but 
descendants. Pedigrees in the land of the 
universal opposite are not matters of be- 
quest but of posthumous reversion. A 
man is not beholden to the past, he looks 
forward to the future for inherited honors. 
No fame attaches to him for having had an 
illustrious grandfather. On the contrary, 
it is the illustrious grandson who reflects 
some of his own greatness back upon his 
grandfather. If a man therefore fail to 
attain eminence himself, he always has an- 
other chance in his descendants ; for he 
will of necessity be ennobled through the 
merits of those who succeed him. Such is 
the immemorial law of the land. Fame is 
retroactive. This admirable system has 
only one objection : it is posthumous in its 
effect. An ambitious man who unfortu- 
nately lacks ability himself has to wait too 
long for vicarious recognition. The objec- 
tion is like that incident to the making of 
a country seat out of a treeless plain by 
planting the same with saplings. About 
the time the trees begin to be worth hav- 
ing the proprietary landscape-gardener dies 
of old age. However, us custom permits a 
Far Oriental no ancestral growth of timber, 



70 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST, 

he is obliged to lay the seeds of his own 
family trees. Natural offspring are on the 
whole easier to get, and more satisfactory 
when got. Hence the haste with which 
these peoples rush into matrimony. If in 
despite of his precipitation fate perversely 
refuse to grant him children, he must en- 
deavor to make good the omission by arti- 
ficial means. He proceeds to adopt some- 
body. True to instinct, he chooses from 
preference a collateral relative. In some 
far-eastern lands he must so restrict himself 
by law. In Korea, for instance, he can only 
adopt an agnate and one of a lower genera- 
tion than his own. But in Japan his choice 
is not so limited. In so praiseworthy an 
act as the perpetuation of his unimportant 
family line, it is deemed unwise in that 
progressive land to hinder him from un- 
consciously bettering it by the way. He is 
consequently permitted to adopt anybody. 
As people are by no means averse to being 
adopted, the power to adopt whom he will 
gives him more voice in the matter of his 
unnatural offspring than he ever had in thf 
selection of a more natural one. 

The adopted changes his name, of course, 
to take that of the family he enters. As 



ADOPTION. 71 

he is very frequently grown up and exten- 
sively known at the time the adoption 
takes place, his change of cognomen occa- 
sions at first some slight confusion among 
his acquaintance. This would be no worse, 
however, than the change with us from the 
maid to the matron, and intercourse would 
soon proceed smoothly again if people 
would only rest content with one such do- 
mestic migration. But they do not. The 
fatal facility of the process tempts them 
to repeat it. The result is bewildering : a 
people as nomadic now in the property of 
their persons as their forefathers were in 
their real estate. A man adopts another 
to-day to unadopt him to-morrow and re- 
place him by somebody else the day after. 
So profoundly unimportant to them is their 
social identity, that they bandy it about 
with almost farcical freedom. Perhaps it 
is fitting that there should be some slight 
preparation in this world for a future trans- 
migration of souls. Still one fails to con- 
ceive that the practice can be devoid of 
disadvantages even to its beneficiaries. To 
foreigners it proves disastrously perplexing. 
For if you chance upon a man whom you 
have not met for some time, you can never 



72 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

be quite sure how to accost him. If you 
begin, "Well met, Green, how goes it?" 
as likely as not he replies, " Finely. But 
I am no longer Green ; I have become 
Brown. I was adopted last month by my 
maternal grandfather." You of course 
apologize for your unfortunate mistake, 
carefully note his change of hue for a fu- 
ture occasion, and behold, on meeting him 
the next time you find he has turned Black. 
Such a chameleon-like cognomen is very 
unsettling to your idea of his identity, and 
can hardly prove reassuring to his own. 
The only persons who reap any benefit 
from the doubt are those, with us unhappy, 
individuals who possess the futile faculty 
of remembering faces without recalling 
their accompanying names. 

Girls, as a rule, are not adopted, being 
valueless genealogically. A niece or grand- 
niece to whom one has taken a great fancy 
might of course be adopted there as else- 
where, but it would be distinctly out of the 
every-day run, as she could never be in- 
cluded in the household on strict business 
principles. 

The practice of adopting is not confined 
to childless couples. Others may find them- 




THE COLOSSAL Jizo 



ADOPTION. 73 

selves in quite as unfortunate a predica- 
ment. A man may be the father of a large 
and thriving family and yet be as destitute 
patriarchally as if he had not a child to 
his name. His offspring may be of the 
wrong sex ; they may all be girls. In this 
untoward event the father has something 
more on his hands than merely a houseful 
of daughters to dispose of. In addition to 
seeming sons-in-law, he must, unless he 
would have his ancestral line become ex- 
tinct, provide himself with a son. The 
simplest procedure in such a case is to 
combine relationships in a single individ- 
ual, and the most self-evident person to 
select for the dual capacity is the husband 
of the eldest daughter. This is the course 
pursued. Some worthy young man is se- 
cured as spouse for the senior sister ; he is 
at the same time formally taken in as a son 
by the family whose cognomen he assumes, 
and eventually becomes the head of the 
house. Strange to say, this vista of grad- 
ually unfolding honors does not seem to 
prove inviting. Perhaps the new-comer ob- 
jects to marrying the whole family, a preju- 
dice not without parallel elsewhere. Cer- 
tainly the opportunity is not appreciated. 



74 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Indeed, to "go out as a son-in-law," as 
the Japanese idiom hath it, is consid- 
ered demeaning to the matrimonial domes- 
tic. Like other household help he wears 
too patently the badge of servitude. " If 
you have three koku of rice to your name, 
don't do it," is the advice of the local 
proverb a proverb whose warning against 
marrying for money is the more suggestive 
for being launched in a land where marry- 
ing for love is beyond the pale of re- 
spectability. To barter one's name in this 
mercenary manner is looked upon as derog- 
atory to one's self-respect, although, as we 
have seen, to part with it for any less di- 
rect remuneration is not attended with the 
slightest loss of personal prestige. As prac- 
tically the unfortunate had none to lose in 
either event, it would seem to be a case of 
taking away from a man that which he hath 
not. So contumacious a thing is custom. 
It is indeed lucky that popular prejudice in- 
terposes some limit to this fictitious method 
of acquiring children. A trifling predilec- 
tion for the real thing in sonships is abso- 
lutely vital, even to the continuance of the 
artificial variety. For if one generation 
ever went in exclusively for adoption, there 



ADOPTION. 75 

would be no subsequent generation to 
adopt. 

As if to give the finishing touch to so 
conventional a system of society, a man can 
leave it under certain circumstances with 
even greater ease than he entered it. He 
can become as good as dead without the 
necessity of making way with himself. 
Theoretically, he can cease to live while 
still practically existing: for it is always 
open to the head of a family to abdicate. 

The word abdicate has to our ears a cer- 
tain regal sound. We instinctively asso- 
ciate the act with a king. Even the more 
democratic expression resign suggests at 
once an office of public or quasi public 
character. To talk of abdicating one's 
private relationships sounds absurd ; one 
might as well talk of electing his parents, 
it would seem to us. Such misunderstand- 
ing of far-eastern social possibilities comes 
from our having indulged in digressions 
from our more simple nomadic habits. If 
in imagination we will return to our ances- 
tral muttons and the then existing order 
of things, the idea will not strike us as so 
strange ; for in those early bucolic days 
every father was a king. Family econom- 



76 THE SOU. r ; OF THE FAR EAST. 

ics were the only political questions in ex- 
istence then. The clan was the unit. Do- 
mestic disputes were state disturbances, and 
clan-claims the only kind of international 
quarrels. The patriarch was both father to 
his people and king. 

As time widened the family circle it 
eventually reached a point where cohesion 
ceased to be possible. The centrifugal ten- 
dency could no longer be controlled by the 
centripetal force. It split up into separate 
bodies, each of them a family by itself. In 
their turn these again divided, and so the 
process went on. This principle has worked 
universally, the only difference in its action 
among different races being the greater or 
less degree of the evolving motion. With 
us the social system has been turning more 
and more rapidly with time. In the Far 
East its force, instead of increasing, would 
seem to have decreased, enabling the neb- 
ula of its original condition to keep to- 
gether as a single mass, so that to-day a 
whole nation, resembling a nebula indeed 
in homogeneity, is swayed by a single pa- 
triarchal principle. Here, on the contrary, 
so rapid has the motion become that even 
brethren find themselves scattered to the 
four winds. 



ADOPTION. 77 

An Occidental father and an Oriental 
head of a family are no longer really cor- 
relative terms. The latter more closely re- 
sembles a king in his duties, responsibili- 
ties, and functions generally. Now, in the 
Middle Ages in Europe, when a king grew 
tired of affairs of state, he abdicated. So 
in the Far East, when the head of a family 
has had enough of active life, he abdicates, 
and his eldest son reigns in his stead. 

From that moment he ceases to belong 
to the body politic in any active sense. 
Not that he is no longer a member of soci- 
ety nor unamenable to its general laws, but 
that he has become a respectable dclass6, 
as it were. He has entered, so to speak, 
the social nirvana, a not unfitting first step, 
as he regards it, toward entering the even- 
tual nirvana beyond. Such abdication now 
takes place without particular cause. After 
a certain time of life, and long before a 
man grows old, it is the fashion thus to 
make one's bow. 



IV. 

LANGUAGE. 

A MAN'S personal equation, as astrono- 
mers call the effect of his individuality, is 
kin, for all its complexity, to those simple 
algebraical problems which so puzzled us at 
school. To solve either we must begin by 
knowing the values of the constants that 
enter into its expression. Upon the a b c's 
of the one, as upon those of the other, de- 
pend the possibilities of the individual x. 

Now the constants in any man's equation 
are the qualities that he has inherited from 
the past. What a man does follows from 
what he is, which in turn is mostly depen- 
dent upon what his ancestors have been ; 
and of all the links in the long chain of 
mind-evolution, few are more important 
and more suggestive than language. Ac- 
tions may at the moment speak louder than 
words, but methods of expression have as 
tell-tale, a tongue for bygone times as ways 
of doing things. 



LANGUAGE. 79 

If it should ever fall to my lot to have 
to settle that exceedingly vexed Eastern 
question, not the emancipation of ancient 
Greece from the bondage of the modern 
Turk, but the emancipation of the modern 
college student from the bond of ancient 
Greek, I should propose, as a solution of 
the dilemma, the addition of a course in 
Japanese to the college list of required 
studies. It might look, I admit, like beg- 
ging the question for the sake of giving its 
answer, but the answer, I think, would jus- 
tify itself. 

It is from no desire to parade a fresh 
hobby-horse upon the university curriculum 
that I offer the suggestion, but because I 
believe that a study of the Japanese lan- 
guage would prove the most valuable of 
ponies in the academic pursuit of philol- 
ogy. In the matter of literature, indeed, 
we should not be adding very much to our 
existing store, but we should gain an in- 
sight into the genesis of speech that would 
put us at least one step nearer to being 
present at the beginnings of human con- 
versation. As it is now, our linguistic 
learning is with most of us limited to a 
knowledge of Aryan tongues, and in con- 



80 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

sequence we not only fall into the mistake 
of thinking our way the only way, which is 
bad enough, but, what is far worse, by not 
perceiving the other possible paths we quite 
fail to appreciate the advantages or disad- 
vantages of following our own. We are 
the blind votaries of a species of ancestral 
language-worship, which, with all its erudi- 
tion, tends to narrow our linguistic scope., 
A study of Japanese would free us from 
the fetters of any such family infatuation. 
The inviolable rules and regulations of 
our mother-tongue would be found to be of 
relative application only. For we should 
discover that speech is a much less cate- 
gorical matter than we had been led to 
suppose. We should actually come to 
doubt the fundamental necessity of some 
of our most sacred grammatical construc- 
tions ; and even our reverenced Latin 
grammars would lose that air of awful ab- 
soluteness which so impressed us in boy- 
hood. 

An encouraging estimate of a certain mis- 
sionary puts the amount of study needed 
by the Western student for the learning of 
Japanese as sufficient, if expended nearer 
home, to equip him with any three modern 



LANGUAGE. 81 

European languages. It is certainly true 
that a completely strange vocabulary, an 
utter inversion of grammar, and an elabo- 
rate system of honorifics combine to render 
its acquisition anything but easy. In its 
fundamental principles, however, it is allur- 
ingly simple. 

In the first place, the Japanese language 
is pleasingly destitute of personal pronouns. 
Not only is the obnoxious " I " conspicu- 
ous only by its absence ; the objectionable 
antagonistic " you " is also entirely sup- 
pressed, while the intrusive " he " is evi- 
dently too much of a third person to be 
wanted. Such invidious distinctions of 
identity apparently never thrust their 
presence upon the simple early Tartar 
minds. I, you, and he, not being differ- 
ences due to nature, demanded, to their 
thinking, no recognition of man. 

There is about this vagueness of expres- 
sion a freedom not without its charm. It 
is certainly delightful to be able to speak 
of yourself as if you were somebody else, 
choosing mentally for the occasion any one 
you may happen to fancy, or, if you prefer, 
the possibility of soaring boldly forth into 
the realms of the unconditioned. 



82 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

To us, at first sight, however, such a lack 
of specification appears wofully incompat- 
ible with any intelligible transmission of 
ideas. So communistic a want of discrimi- 
nation between the meum and the tuum 
to say nothing of the claims of a possible 
third party would seem to be as fatal to 
the interchange of thoughts as it proves de- 
structive to the trafficking in commodities. 
Such, nevertheless, is not the result. On 
the contrary, Japanese is as easy and as 
certain of comprehension as is English. 
On ninety occasions out of a hundred, the 
context at once makes clear the person 
meant. 

In the very few really ambiguous cases, 
or those in which, for the sake of emphasis, 
a pronoun is wanted, certain consecrated ex- 
pressions are introduced for the purpose. 
For eventually the more complex social re- 
lations of increasing civilization compelled 
some sort of distant recognition. Accord- 
ingly, compromises with objectionable per- 
sonality were effected by circumlocutions 
promoted to a pronoun's office, becoming 
thus pro-pronouns, as it were. Very non- 
committal expressions they are, most of 
them, such as : " the augustness," meaning 



LANGUAGE. 83 

you ; " that honorable side," or " that cor- 
ner," denoting some third person, the exact 
term employed in any given instance scru- 
pulously betokening the relative respect in 
which the individual spoken of is held ; 
while with a candor, an indefiniteness, or 
a humility worthy so polite a people, the I 
is known as " selfishness," or " a certain 
person," or " the clumsy one." 

Pronominal adjectives are manufactured 
in the same way. "The stupid father," 
"the awkward son," "the broken-down 
firm," are "mine." Were they "yours," 
they would instantly become " the arugust, 
venerable father," " the honorable son," 
" the exalted firm." 1 

Even these lame substitutes for pronouns 
are paraded as sparingly as possible. To 
the Western student, who brings to the 
subject a brain throbbing with personality, 
hunting in a Japanese sentence for personal 
references is dishearteningly like " search- 
ing in the dark for a black hat which is n't 
there ; " for the brevet pronouns are com- 
monly not on duty. To employ them with 
the reckless prodigality that characterizes 

1 Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain : The Japanese 
Language. 



84 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

our conversation would strike the Tartai 
mind like interspersing his talk with un- 
meaning italics. He would regard such 
discourse much as we do those effusive 
epistles of a certain type of young woman 
to her most intimate girl friends, in which 
every other word is emphatically under- 
lined. 

For the most part, the absolutely neces- 
sary personal references are introduced by 
honorifics ; that is, by honorary or humble 
expressions. Such is a portion of the 
latter's duty. They do a great deal of un- 
necessary work besides. 

These honorifics are, taken as a whole, 
one of the most interesting peculiarities of 
Japanese, as also of Korean, just as, taken 
in detail, they are one of its most dangerous 
pitfalls. For silence is indeed golden com- 
pared with the chagrin of discovering that 
a speech which you bad meant for a com- 
pliment was, in fact, an insult, or the 
vexation of learning that you have been 
industriously treating your servant with the 
deference due a superior, two catastro- 
phes sure to follow the attempts of even the 
most cautious of beginners. The language 
is so thoroughly imbued with the honorific 



LANGUAGE. 85 

spirit that the exposure of truth in all its 
naked simplicity is highly improper. Every 
idea requires to be more or less clothed in 
courtesy before it is presentable; and the 
garb demanded by etiquette is complex be- 
yond conception. To begin with, there are 
certain preliminary particles which are 
simply honorific, serving no other purpose 
whatsoever. In addition to these there are 
for every action a small infinity of verbs, 
each sacred to a different degree of respect. 
For instance, to our verb " to give " corre- 
sponds a complete social scale of Japanese 
verbs, each conveying the idea a shade 
more politely than its predecessor ; only the 
very lowest meaning anything so plebeian 
as simply " to give." Sets of laudatory or 
depreciatory adjectives are employed in the 
same way. Lastly, the word for " is," 
which strictly means "exists," expresses 
this existence under three different forms, 
in a matter-of-fact, a flowing, or an in- 
flated style ; the solid, liquid, and gaseous 
states of conversation, so to speak, to suit 
the person addressed. But three forms be- 
ing far too few for the needs of so elabo- 
rate a politeness, these are supplemented 
by many interpolated grades. 



86 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Terms of respect are applied not only to 
those mortals who are held in estimation 
higher than their fellows, but to all men 
indiscriminately as well. The grammatical 
attitude of the individual toward the speak- 
er is of as much importance as his social 
standing, I being beneath contempt, and 
you above criticism. 

Honorifics are used not only on all possi- 
ble occasions for courtesy, but at times, it 
would seem, upon impossible ones ; for in 
some instances the most subtle diagnosis 
fails to reveal in them a relevancy to any- 
body. That the commonest objects should 
bear titles because of their connection with 
some particular person is comprehensible, 
but what excuse can be made for a phrase 
like the following, " It respectfully does 
that the august seat exists," all of which 
simply means " is," and may be applied to 
anything, being the common word in 
Japanese it is all one word now for that 
apparently simple idea. It would seem a 
sad waste of valuable material. The real 
reason why so much distinguished consid- 
eration is shown the article in question lies 
in the fact that it is treated as existing 
with reference to the person addressed, and 
therefore becomes ipso facto august. 



LANGUAGE. 87 

Here is a still subtler example. You are, 
we will suppose, at a tea-house, and you 
wish for sugar. The following almost 
stereotyped conversation is pretty sure to 
take place. I translate it literally, simply 
prefacing that every tea-house girl, usually 
in the first blush of youth, is generically 
addressed as "elder sister," another hon- 
orific, at least so considered in Japan. 

You clap your hands. (Enter tea-house 
maiden.) 

You. Hai, elder sister, augustly exists 
there sugar ? 

The T. H. M. The honorable sugar, 
augustly is it? 

You. So, augustly. 

The T. H. M. He (indescribable expres- 
sion of assent). 

(Exit tea -house maiden to fetch the 
sugar.) 

Now, the " augustlies " go almost with- 
out saying, but why is the sugar honorable? 
Simply because it is eventually going to be 
offered to you. But she would have spoken 
of it by precisely the same respectful title, 
if she had been obliged to inform you that 
there was none, in which case it never 
could have become yours. Such is polite- 



88 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ness. We may note, in passing, that all 
her remarks and all yours, barring your 
initial question, meant absolutely nothing. 
She understood you perfectly from the first, 
and you knew she did ; but then, if all of 
us were to say only what were necessary, 
the delightful art of conversation would 
soon be nothing but a science. 

The average Far Oriental, indeed, talks 
as much to no purpose as his Western 
cousin, only in his chit-chat politeness re- 
places personalities. With him, self is sup- 
pressed, and an ever-present regard for 
others is substituted in its stead. 

A lack of personality is, as we have seen, 
the occasion of this courtesy ; it is also its 
cause. 

That politeness should be one of the most 
marked results of impersonality may appear 
surprising, yet a slight examination will 
show it to be a fact. Looked at a posteriori, 
we find that where the one trait exists the 
other is most developed, while an absence 
of the second seems to prevent the full 
growth of the first. This is true both in 
general and in detail. Courtesy increases, 
as we travel eastward round the world, 
coincidently with a decrease in the sense of 



LANGUAGE. 89 

self. Asia is more courteous than Europe, 
Europe than America. Particular races 
show the same concomitance of character- 
istics. France, the most impersonal nation 
of Europe, is at the same time the most 
polite. 

Considered a priori, the connection be- 
tween the two is not far to seek. Imper- 
sonality, by lessening the interest in one's 
self, induces one to take an interest in 
others. Introspection tends to make of 
man a solitary animal, the absence of it a 
social one. The more impersonal the peo- 
ple, the more will the community supplant 
the individual in the popular estimation. 
The type becomes the interesting thing to 
man, as it always is to nature. Then, as 
the social desires develop, politeness, being 
the means to their enjoyment, develops also. 

A second omission in Japanese etymology 
is that of gender. That words should be 
credited with sex is a verbal anthropo- 
morphism that would seem to a Japanese 
exquisitely grotesque, if so be that it did 
not strike him as actually immodest. For 
the absence of gender is simply sympto- 
matic of a much more vital failing, a dis- 
regard of sex. Originally, as their Ian- 



90 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

gunge bears witness, the Japanese showed 
a childish reluctance to recognizing sex at 
all. Usually a single sexless terra was held 
sufficient for a given species, and did duty 
collectively for both sexes. Only where a 
consideration of sex thrust itself upon 
them, beyond the possibility of evasion, 
did they employ for the male and the fe- 
male distinctive expressions. The more 
intimate the relation of the object to man, 
the more imperative the discriminating 
name. Hence human beings possessed a 
fair number of such special appellatives ; 
for a man is a palpably different sort of 
person from his grandmother, and a moth- 
er-in-law from a wife. But it is notewor- 
thy that the artificial affinities of society 
were as carefully differentiated as the dis- 
tinctions due to sex, while ancestral rela- 
tionships were deemed more important than 
either. 

Animals, though treated individually 
most humanely, are vouchsafed but scant 
recognition on the score of sex. With 
them, both sexes share one common name, 
and commonly, indeed, this answers quite 
well enough. In those few instances where 
sex enters into the question in a manner not 



LANGUAGE. 91 

to be ignored, particles denoting " male " or 
"female" are prefixed to the general term. 
How comparatively rare is the need of such 
specification can be seen from the way in 
which, with us, in many species, the name 
of one sex alone does duty indifferently for 
both. That of the male is the one usually 
selected, as in the case of the dog or horse. 
If, however, it be the female with which 
man has most to do, she is allowed to bestow 
her name upon her male partner. Exam- 
ples of the latter description occur in the 
use of " cows " for " cattle," and " hens " 
for " fowls." A Japanese can say only 
"fowl," defined, if absolutely necessary, as 
he-fowl " or " she-fowl." 

Now such a slighting of one of the most 
potent springs of human action, sex, with 
all that the idea involves, is not due to. 
a pronounced misogynism on the part of 
these people, but to a much more effective 
neglect, a great underlying impersonality. 
Indifference to woman is but included in 
a much more general indifference to man- 
kind. The fact becomes all the more evi- 
dent when we descend from sex to gender. 
That Father Ocean does not, in their verbal 
imagery, embrace Mother Earth, with that 



92 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

subtle suggestion of humanity which in 
Aryan speech the gender of the nouns hints 
without expressing, is not due to any lack 
of poesy in the Far Oriental speaker, but 
to the essential impersonality of his mind, 
embodied now in the very character of the 
words he uses. A Japanese noun is a crys- 
tallized concept, handed down unchanged 
from the childhood of the Japanese race. 
So primitive a conception does it represent 
that it is neither a total nor a partial sym- 
bol, but rather the outcome of a first vague 
generality. The word " man," for instance, 
means to them not one man, still less man- 
kind, but that indefinite idea which strug- 
gles for embodiment in the utterance of the 
infant. It represents not a person, but a 
thing, a material fact quite innocent of gen- 
der. This early state of semi-consciousness 
the Japanese never outgrew. The world 
continued to present itself to their minds as 
a collection of things. Nor did their sub- 
sequent Chinese education change their 
view. Buddhism simply infused all things 
with the one universal spirit. 

As to inanimate objects, the idea of sup- 
posing sex where there is not even life is 
altogether too fanciful a notion for the Far 
Eastern mind. 



LANGUAGE. 93 

Impersonality first fashioned the nouns, 
and then the nouns, by their very im- 
personality, helped keep impersonal the 
thought and fettered fancy. All those 
temptings to poesy which to the Aryan 
imagination lie latent in the sex with 
which his forefathers humanized their 
words, never stir the Tartar nor the Chi- 
nese soul. They feel the poetry of nature 
as much as, indeed much more than, we ; 
but it is a poetry unassociated with man. 
And this, too, curiously enough, in spite 
of the fact that to explain the cosmos 
the Chinamen invented, or perhaps only 
adapted, a singularly sexual philosophy. 
For possibly, like some other portions of 
their intellectual wealth, they stole it from 
India. The Chinese conception of the ori- 
gin of the world is based on the idea of 
sex. According to their notions the earth 
was begotten. It is true that with them 
the cosmos started in an abstract some- 
thing, which self-produced two great prin- 
ciples ; but this pair once obtained, matters 
proceeded after the analogy of mankind. 
The two principles at work were them- 
selves abstract enough to have satisfied the 
most unimpassioned of philosophers. They 



94 THE 80 UL OF THE FAR EAST. 

were simply a positive essence and a 
negative one, correlated to sunshine and 
shadow, but also correlated to male and 
female forces. Through their mutual ac- 
tion were born the earth and the air and 
the water ; from these, in turn, was begot- 
ten man. The cosmical modus operandi 
was not creative nor evolutionary, but sex- 
ual. The whole scheme suggests an at- 
tempt to wed abstract philosophy with 
primitive concrete mythology. 

The same sexuality distinguishes the Ja- 
panese demonology. Here the physical re- 
places the philosophical ; instead of princi- 
ples we find allegorical personages, but they 
show just the same pleasing propensity to 
appear in pairs. 

This attributing of sexes to the cosmos 
is not in the least incompatible with an un- 
interested disregard of sex where it really 
exists. It is one thing to admit the fact as 
a general law of the universe, and quite 
another to dwell upon it as an important 
factor in every-day affairs. 

How slight is the Tartar tendency to per- 
sonification can be seen from a glance at 
these same Japanese gods. They are a 
combination of defunct ancestors and del- 



LANGUAGE. 95 

fied natural phenomena. The evolving of 
the first half required little imagination, 
for fate furnished the material ready made ; 
while in conjuring up the second moiety, 
the spirit-evokers showed even less origi- 
nality. Their results were neither winsome 
nor sublime. The gods whom they created 
they invested with very ordinary humanity, 
the usual endowment of aboriginal deity, 
together with the customary superhuman 
strength. If these demigods differed from 
others of their class, it was only in being 
more commonplace, and in not meddling 
much with man. Even such personifica- 
tion of natural forces, simple enough to be 
self-suggested, quickly disappeared. The 
various awe - compelling phenomena soon 
ceased to have any connection with the 
anthropomorphic noumena they had begot- 
ten. For instance, the sun-goddess, we are 
informed, was one day lured out of a cav- 
ern, where she was sulking in consequence 
of the provoking behavior of her younger 
brother, by her curiosity at the sight of her 
own face in a mirror, ingeniously placed 
before the entrance for the purpose. But 
no Japanese would dream now of casting 
any such reflections, however flattering, 



96 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

upon the face of the orb of day. The sun 
has become not only quite sexless to him, 
but as devoid of personality as it is to any 
Western materialist. Lesser deities suf- 
fered a like unsubstantial transformation. 
The thunder-god, with his belt of drums, 
upon which he beats a devil's tattoo until 
he is black in the face, is no longer even 
indirectly associated with the storm. As 
for dryads and nymphs, the beautiful crea- 
tures never inhabited Eastern Asia. An- 
thropoid foxes and raccoons, wholly lacking 
in those engaging qualities that beget love, 
and through love remembrance, take their 
place. Even Benten, the naturalized Ve- 
nus, who, like her Hellenic sister, is said to 
have risen from the sea, is a person quite 
incapable of inspiring a reckless infatua- 
tion. 

Utterly unlike was this pantheon to the 
pantheon of the Greeks, the personifying 
tendency of whose Aryan mind was for- 
ever peopling nature with half-human in- 
habitants. Under its quickening fancy the 
very clods grew sentient. Dumb earth 
awoke at the call of its desire, and the 
beings its own poesy had begotten made 
merry companionship for man. Then a 



LANGUAGE. 97 

change crept over the face of things. 
Faith began to flicker, for want of facts 
to feed its flame. Little by little the fires 
of devotion burnt themselves out. At last 
great Pan died. The body of the old belief 
was consumed. But though it perished, its 
ashes preserved its form, an unsubstantial 
presentment of the past, to crumble in a 
twinkling at the touch of science, but keep- 
ing yet to the poet's eye the lifelike sem- 
blance of what once had been. The dead 
gods still live in our language and our art. 
Even to-day the earth about us seems semi- 
conscious to the soul, for the memories they 
have left. 

But with the Far Oriental the exorcising 
feeling was fear. He never fell in love 
with his own mythological creations, and 
so he never embalmed their memories. 
They were to him but explanations of 
facts, and had no claims upon his fancy. 
His ideal world remained as utterly imper- 
sonal as if it had never been born. 

The same impersonality reappears in the 
matter of number. Grammatically, num- 
ber with them is unrecognized. There ex- 
ist no such things as plural forms. This 
singularity would be only too welcome to 



98 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the foreign student, were it not that in 
avoiding the frying-pan the Tartars fell 
into the fire. For what they invented in 
place of a plural was quite as difficult to 
memorize, and even more cumbrous to ex- 
press. Instead of inflecting the noun and 
then prefixing a number, they keep the 
noun unchanged and add two numerals; 
thus at times actually employing more 
words to express the objects than there 
are objects to express. One of these nu- 
merals is a simple number ; the other is 
what is known as an auxiliary numeral, a 
word as singular in form as in function. 
Thus, for instance, " two men " become am- 
plified verbally into " man two individual," 
or, as the Chinaman puts it, in pidgin Eng- 
lish, " two piecey man." For in this respect 
Chinese resembles Japanese, though in very 
little else, and pidgin English is nothing 
but the literal translation of the Chinese 
idiom into Anglo-Saxon words. The neces- 
sity for such elaborate qualification arises 
from the excessive simplicity of the Japa- 
nese nouns. As we have seen, the noun 
is so indefinite a generality that simply to 
multiply it by a number cannot possibly 
produce any definite result. No exact coun- 



LANGUAGE. 99 

terpartof these nouns exists in English, but 
some idea of the impossibility of the pro- 
cess may be got from our word " cattle," 
which, prolific though it may prove in fact, 
remains obstinately incapable of verbal mul- 
tiplication. All Japanese nouns being of 
this indefinite description, all require aux- 
iliary numerals. But as each one has its 
own appropriate numeral, about which a 
mistake is unpardonable, it takes some lit- 
tle study merely to master the etiquette of 
these handles to the names of things. 

Nouns are not inflected, their cases being 
expressed by postpositions, which, as the 
name implies, follow, in becoming Japa- 
nese inversion, instead of preceding the 
word they affect. To make up, neverthe- 
less, for any lack of perplexity due to an 
absence of inflections, adjectives, en re- 
vanche, are most elaborately conjugated. 
Their protean shapes are as long as they 
are numerous, representing not only times, 
but conditions. There are, for instance, 
the root form, the adverbial form, the in- 
definite form, the attributive form, and the 
conclusive form, the two last being conju- 
gated through all the various voices, moods, 
and tenses, to say nothing of all the poten- 



100 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

tial forms. As one change is superposed 
on another, the adjective ends by becoming 
three or four times its original length. The 
fact is, the adjective is either adjective, ad- 
verb, or verb, according to occasion. In the 
root form it also helps to make nouns ; so 
that it is even more generally useful than 
as a journalistic epithet with us. As a 
verb, it does duty as predicate and copula 
combined. For such an unnecessary part 
of speech as a real copula does not exist in 
Japanese. In spite of the shock to the 
prejudices of the old school of logicians, it 
must be confessed that the Tartars get on 
very well without any such couplings to 
their trains of thought. But then we 
should remember that in their sentences 
the cart is always put before the horse, 
and so needs only to be pushed, not pulled 
along. 

The want of a copula is another instance 
of the primitive character of the tongue. 
It has its counterpart in our own baby-talk, 
where a quality is predicated of a thing 
simply by placing the adjective in apposi- 
tion with the noun. 

That the Japanese word which is com- 
monly translated " is " is in no sense a 



LANGUAGE. 101 

copula, but an ordinary intransitive verb, 
referring to a natural state, and not to a 
logical condition, is evident in two ways. 
In the first place, it is never used to predi- 
cate a quality directly. A Japanese does 
not say, " The scenery is fine," but simply, 
" Scenery, fine." Secondly, wherever this 
verb is indirectly employed in such a man- 
ner, it is followed, not by an adjective, but 
by an adverb. Not " She is beautiful," 
but " She exists beautifully," would be the 
Japanese way of expressing his admiration. 
What looks at first, therefore, like a copula 
turns out to be merely an impersonal in- 
transitive verb. 

A negative noun is, of course, an impos- 
sibility in any language, just as a negative 
substantive, another name for the same 
thing, is a direct contradiction in terms. 
No matter how negative the idea to be 
given, it must be conveyed by a positive 
expression. Even avoid is grammatically 
quite full of meaning, although unhappily 
empty in fact. So much is common to 
all tongues, but Japanese carries its posi- 
tivism yet further. Not only has it no 
negative nouns, it has not even any nega- 
tive pronouns nor pronominal adjectives, 



102 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

those convenient keepers of places for the 
absent. " None " and " nothing " are un- 
known words in its vocabulary, because the 
ideas they represent are not founded on 
observed facts, but upon metaphysical ab- 
stractions. Such terms are human-born, 
not earth-begotten concepts, and so to the 
Far Oriental, who looks at things from the 
point of view of nature, not of man, nega- 
tion takes another form. Usually it is in- 
troduced by the verbs, because the verbs, 
for the most part, relate to human actions, 
and it is man, not nature, who is responsi- 
ble for the omission in question. After all, 
it does seem more fitting to say, "I am 
ignorant of everything," than " I know 
nothing." It is indeed you who are want- 
ing, not the thing. 

The question of verbs leads us to another 
matter bearing on the subject of imperson- 
ality ; namely, the arrangement of the 
words in a Japanese sentence. The Tar- 
tar mode of grammatical construction is 
very nearly the inverse of our own. The 
fundamental rule of Japanese syntax is, 
that qualifying words precede the words 
they qualify ; that is, an idea is elaborately 
modified before it is so much as expressed. 



LANGUAGE. 103 

This practice places the hearer at some 
awkward preliminary disadvantage, inas- 
much as the story is nearly over before he 
has any notion what it is all about ; but 
really it puts the speaker to much more 
trouble, for he is obliged to fashion his 
whole sentence complete in his brain before 
he starts to speak. This is largely in conse- 
quence of two omissions in Tartar etymol- 
ogy. There are in Japanese no relative 
pronouns and no temporal conjunctions; 
conjunctions, that is, for connecting con- 
secutive events. The want of these words 
precludes the admission of afterthoughts. 
Postscripts in speech are impossible. The 
functions of relatives are performed by po- 
sition, explanatory or continuative clauses 
being made to precede directly the word 
they affect. Ludicrous anachronisms, not 
unlike those experienced by Alice in her 
looking-glass journey, are occasioned by 
this practice. For example, "The merry 
monarch who ended by falling a victim 
to profound melancholia " becomes " To 
profound melancholia a victim by falling 
ended merry monarch," and the sympa- 
thetic hearer weeps first and laughs after- 
ward, when chronologically he should be 
doing precisely the opposite. 



104 THE BOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

A like inversion of the natural order of 
things results from the absence of temporal 
conjunctions. In Japanese, though nouns 
can be added, actions cannot ; you can say 
" hat and coat," but not " dressed and 
came." Conjunctions are used only for 
space, never for time. Objects that exist 
together can be joined in speech, but it 
is not allowable thus to connect consecu- 
tive events. " Having dressed, came " is 
the Japanese idiom. To speak otherwise 
would be to violate the unities. For a 
Japanese sentence is a single rounded 
whole, not a bunch of facts loosely tied to- 
gether. It is as much a unit in its com- 
position as a novel or a drama is with us. 
Such artistic periods, however, are any- 
thing but convenient. In their nicely con- 
trived involution they strikingly resemble 
those curious nests of Chinese boxes, where 
entire shells lie closely packed one within 
another, a very marvel of ingenious and 
perfectly unnecessary construction. One 
must be antipodally comprehensive to enter- 
tain the idea ; as it is, the idea entertains us. 

On the same general plan, the nouns pre- 
cede the verbs in the sentence, and are in 
every way the more important parts of 



LANGUAGE. 105 

speech. The consequence is that in ordi- 
nary conversation the verbs corne so late in 
the day that they not infrequently get left 
out altogether. For the Japanese are much 
given to docking their phrases, a custom 
the Germans might do well to adopt. 
Now, nouns denote facts, while verbs ex- 
press action, and action, as considered in 
human speech, is mostly of human origin. 
In this precedence accorded the impersonal 
element in language over the personal, we 
observe again the comparative importance 
assigned the two. In Japanese estimation, 
the first place belongs to nature, the second 
only to man. 

As if to mark beyond a doubt the insig- 
nificance of the part man plays in their 
thought, sentences are usually subjectless. 
Although it is a common practice to begin 
a phrase with the central word of the idea, 
isolated from what follows by the empha- 
sizing particle " wa " (which means " as 
to," the French "quant a"), the word thus 
singled out for distinction is far more likely 
to be the object of the sentence than its 
subject. The habit is analogous to the 
use of our phrase " speaking of," that is, 
simply an emphatic mode of introducing a 



106 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

fresh thought ; only that with them, the 
practice being the rule and not the excep- 
tion, no correspondingly abrupt effect is 
produced by it. Ousted thus from the post 
of honor, the subject is not even permitted 
the second place. Indeed, it usually fails 
to put in an appearance anywhere. You 
may search through sentence after sentence 
without meeting with the slightest sugges- 
tion of such a thing. When so unusual 
an anomaly as a motive cause is directly 
adduced, it owes its mention, not to the 
fact of being the subject, but because for 
other reasons it happens to be the impor- 
tant word of the thought. The truth is, 
the Japanese conception of events is only 
very vaguely subjective. An action is 
looked upon more as happening than as 
being performed, as impersonally rather 
than personally produced. The idea is 
due, however, to anything but philosophic 
profundity. It springs from the most su- 
perficial of childish conceptions. For the 
Japanese mind is quite the reverse of ab- 
stract. Its consideration of things is con- 
crete to a primitive degree. The language 
reflects the fact. The few abstract ideas 
these people now possess are not repre- 



LANGUAGE. 107 

sented, for the most part, by pure Japanese, 
but by imported Chinese expressions. The 
islanders got such general notions from 
their foreign education, and they imported 
idea and word at the same time. 

Summing up, as it were, in propria per- 
sona the impersonality of Japanese speech, 
the word for " man," " hito," is identical 
with, and probably originally the same 
word as " hito," the numeral " one ; " a 
noun and a numeral, from which Aryan 
languages have coined the only impersonal 
pronoun they possess. On the one hand, 
we have the German " mann ; " on the 
other, the French "on." While as if to 
give the official seal to the oneness of man 
with the universe, the word mono, thing, 
is applied, without the faintest implication 
of insult, to men. 

Such, then, is the mould into which, as 
children, these people learn to cast their 
thought. What an influence it must exert 
upon their subsequent views of life we 
have but to ask of our own memories to 
know. With each one of us, if we are to 
advance beyond the steps of the last gen- 
eration, there comes a time when our grow- 
ing ideas refuse any longer to fit the child- 



108 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ish grooves in which we were taught to let 
them run. How great the wrench is when 
this supreme moment arrives we have all 
felt too keenly ever to forget. We hesi- 
tate, we delay, to abandon the beliefs which, 
dating from the dawn of our being, seem to 
us even as a part of our very selves. From 
the religion of our mother to the birth of 
our boyish first love, all our early associa- 
tions send down roots so deep that long 
after our minds have outgrown them our 
hearts refuse to give them up. Even when 
reason conquers at last, sentiment still 
throbs at the voids they necessarily have 
left. 

In the Far East, this fondness for the old 
is further consecrated by religion. The 
worship of ancestors sets its seal upon the 
traditions of the past, to break which were 
impious as well as sad. The golden age, 
that time when each man himself was 
young, has lingered on in the lands where 
it is always morning, and where man has 
never passed to his prosaic noon. Befitting 
the place is the mind we find there. As 
its language so clearly shows, it still is in 
that early impersonal state to which we all 
awake first before we become aware of that 
something we later know so well as self. 



LANGUAGE. 109 

Particularly potent with these people is 
their language, for a reason that also lends 
it additional interest to us, because it is 
their own. Among the mass of foreign 
thought the Japanese imitativeness has 
caused the nation to adopt, here is one 
thing which is indigenous. Half of the 
present speech, it is true, is of Chinese im- 
portation, but conservatism has kept the 
other half pure. From what it reveals we 
can see how each man starts to-day with 
the same impersonal outlook upon life the 
race had reached centuries ago, and which 
it has since kept unchanged. The man's 
mind has done likewise. 



V. 

NATUKE AND ABT. 

WE have seen how impersonal is the form 
which Far Eastern thought assumes when 
it crystallizes into words. Let us turn now 
to a consideration of the thoughts them- 
selves before they are thus stereotyped for 
transmission to others, and scan them as 
they find expression unconsciously in the 
man's doings, or seek it consciously in his 
deeds. 

To the Far Oriental there is one subject 
which so permeates and pervades his whole 
being as to be to him, not so much a con- 
scious matter of thought as an unconscious 
mode of thinking. For it is a thing which 
shapes all his thoughts instead of constitut- 
ing the substance of one particular set of 
them. That subject is art. To it he is 
born as to a birthright. Artistic percep- 
tion is with him an instinct to which he 
intuitively conforms, and for which he in- 
herits the skill of countless generations. 




A JAPANESE GARDEN 



NATURE AND ART. Ill 

From the tips of his fingers to the tips of 
his toes, in whose use he is surprisingly 
proficient, he is the artist all over. Ad- 
mirable, however, as is his manual dexter- 
ity, his mental altitude is still more to be 
admired ; for it is artistic to perfection. 
His perception of beauty is as keen as his 
comprehension of the cosmos is crude ; for 
while with science he has not even a speak- 
ing acquaintance, with art he is on terms 
of the most affectionate intimacy. 

To the whole Far Eastern world science 
is a stranger. Such nescience is patent 
even in matters seemingly scientific. For 
although the Chinese civilization, even in 
the so-called modern inventions, was al- 
ready old while ours lay still in the cradle, 
it was to no scientific spirit that its discov- 
eries were due. Notwithstanding the fact 
that Cathay was the happy possessor of 
gunpowder, movable type, and the com- 
pass before such things were dreamt of in 
Europe, she owed them to no knowledge of 
physics, chemistry, or mechanics. It was 
as arts, not as sciences, they were invented. 
And it speaks volumes for her civilization 
that she burnt her powder for fireworks, 
not for firearms. To the West alone be- 



112 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

longs the credit of manufacturing that arti- 
cle for the sake of killing people instead of 
merely killing time. 

The scientific is not the Far Oriental 
point of view. To wish to know the rea- 
sons of things, that irrepressible yearning 
of the Western spirit, is no characteristic 
of the Chinaman's mind, nor is it a Tartar 
trait. Metaphysics, a species of speculation 
that has usually proved peculiarly attrac- 
tive to mankind, probably from its not re- 
quiring any scientific capital whatever, 
would seem the most likely place to seek 
it. But upon such matters he has ex- 
pended no imagination of his own, having 
quietly taken on trust from India what 
he now professes. As for science proper, 
it has reached at his hands only the quasi- 
morphologic stage ; that is, it consists of 
catalogues concocted according to the inge- 
nuity of the individual and resembles the 
real thing about as much as a haphazard 
arrangement of human bones might be ex- 
pected to resemble a man. Not only is the 
spirit of the subject left out altogether, but 
the mere outward semblance is mislead- 
ing. For pseudo-scientific collections of 
facts which never rise to be classifications 



NATURE AND ART. 113 

of phenomena forms to his idea the acme 
of erudition. His mathematics, for exam- 
ple, consists of a set of empiric rules, of 
which no explanation is ever vouchsafed 
the taught for the simple reason that it is 
quite unknown to the teacher. It is not 
even easy to decide how much of what there 
is is Jesuitical. Of more recent sciences 
he has still less notion, particularly of the 
natural ones. Physics, chemistry, geology, 
and the like are matters that have never 
entered his head. Even in studies more 
immediately connected with obvious every- 
day life, such as language, history, customs, 
it is truly remarkable how little he pos- 
sesses the power of generalization and in- 
ference. His elaborate lists of facts are 
imposing typographically, but are not even 
formally important, while his reasoning 
about them is as exquisite a bit of scien- 
tific satire as could well be imagined. 

But with the arts it is quite another mat- 
ter. While you will search in vain, in his 
civilization, for explanations of even the 
most simple of nature's laws, you will meet 
at every turn with devices for the beautify- 
ing of life, which may stand not unworthily 
beside the products of nature's own skill. 



114 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

Whatever these people fashion, from the 
toy of an hour to the triumphs of all time, 
is touched by a taste unknown elsewhere. 
To stroll down the Broadway of Tokio of 
an evening is a liberal education in every- 
day art. As you enter it there opens out 
in front of you a fairy-like vista of illumi- 
nation. Two long lines of gayly lighted 
shops, stretching off into the distance, look 
out across two equally endless rows of 
torch-lit booths, the decorous yellow gleam 
of the one contrasting strangely with the 
demoniacal red flare of the other. This 
perspective of pleasure fulfils its promise. 
As your feet follow your eyes you find your- 
self in a veritable shoppers' paradise, the 
galaxy of twinkle resolving into worlds of 
delight. Nor do you long remain a mere 
spectator ; for the shops open their arms to 
you. No cold glass reveals their charms 
only to shut you off. Their wares lie in- 
vitingly exposed to the public, seeming to 
you already half your own. At the very 
first you come to you stop involuntarily, lost 
in admiration over what you take to be 
bric-a-brac. It is only afterwards you 
learn that the object of your ecstasy was 
the commonest of kitchen crockery. Next 



NATURE AND ART. 115 

door you halt again, this time in front of 
some leathern pocket-books, stamped with 
designs in color to tempt you instantly to 
empty your wallet for more new ones than 
you will ever have the means to fill. If 
you do succeed in tearing yourself away 
purse-whole, it is only to fall a victim to 
some painted fans of so exquisite a make 
and decoration that escape short of posses- 
sion is impossible. Opposed as stubbornly 
as you may be to idle purchase at home, 
here you will find yourself the prey of an 
acute case of shopping fever before you 
know it. Nor will it be much consola- 
tion subsequently to discover that you have 
squandered your patrimony upon the most 
ordinary articles of every-day use. If in 
despair you turn for refuge to the booths, 
you will but have delivered yourself into 
the embrace of still more irresistible fasci- 
nations. For the nocturnal squatters are 
there for the express purpose of catching 
the susceptible. The shops were modestly 
attractive from their nature, but the booths 
deliberately make eyes at you, and with 
telling effect. The very atmosphere is be- 
witching. The lurid smurkiness of the 
torches lends an appropriate weirdness to 



116 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the figure of the uncouthly clad pedlar who, 
with the politeness of the arch-fiend him- 
self, displays to an eager group the fatal 
fascinations of some new conceit. Here 
the latest thing in inventions, a gutta-per- 
cha rat, which, for reasons best known to 
the vender, scampers about squeaking with 
a mimicry to shame the original, holds an 
admiring c owd spellbound with mingled 
trepidiition and delight. There a native 
zoe trope, indefatigable round of pleasure, 
whose top fashioned after the type of a 
turbine wheel enables a candle at the cen- 
tre ingeniously to supply both illumination 
and motive power at the same time, affords 
to as many as can find room on its circum- 
ference a peep at the composite antics of a 
consecutively pictured monkey in the act 
of jumping a box. Beyond this "wheel of 
life " lies spread out on a mat a most happy 
family of curios, the whole of which you 
are quite prepared to purchase en Hoc. 
While a little farther on stands a flower 
show which seems to be coyly beckoning to 
you as the blossoms nod their heads to an 
imperceptible breeze. So one attraction 
fairly jostles its neighbor for recognition 
from the gay thousands that like yourself 



NATURE AND ART. 117 

stroll past in holiday delight. Chattering 
children in brilliant colors, voluble women 
and talkative men in quieter but no less 
picturesque costumes, stream on in kaleido- 
scopic continuity. And you, carried along 
by the current, wander thus for miles with 
the tide of pleasure-seekers, till, late at 
night, when at last you turn reluctantly 
homeward, you feel as one does when wak- 
ened from some too delightful dream. 

Or instead of night, suppose it day and 
the place a temple. With those who are 
entering you enter too through the outer 
gateway into the courtyard. At the farther 
end vises a building the like of which for 
richness of effect you have probably never 
beheld or even imagined. In front of you 
a flight of white stone steps leads up to a 
terrace whose parapet, also of stone, rs dia- 
pered for half its height and open lattice- 
work the rest. This piazza gives entrance 
to a building or set of buildings whose every 
detail challenges the eye. Twelve pillars 
of snow-white wood sheathed in part with 
bronze, arranged in four rows, make, as it 
were, the bones of the structure. The space 
between the centre columns lies open. The 
other triplets are webbed in the middle and 



118 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

connected, on the sides and front, by grilles 
of wood and bronze forming on the outside 
a couple of embrasures on either hand the 
entrance in which stand the guardian Nio, 
two colossal demons, Gog and Magog. In- 
stead of capitals, a frieze bristling with Chi- 
nese lions protects the top of the pillars. 
Above this in place of entablature rises tier 
upon tier of decoration, each tier projecting 
beyond the one beneath, and the topmost of 
all terminating in a balcony which encircles 
the whole second story. The parapet of 
this balcony is one mass of ornament, and 
its cornice another row of lions, brown in- 
stead of white. The second story is no less 
crowded with carving. Twelve pillars make 
its ribs, the spaces between being filled 
with elaborate woodwork, while on top rest 
more friezes, more cornices, clustered with 
excrescences of all colors and kinds, and 
guarded by lions innumerable. To begin 
to tell the details of so multi-faceted a gem 
were artistically impossible. It is a jewel of 
a thousand rays, yet whose beauties blend 
into one as the prismatic tints combine 
to white. And then, after the first dazzle 
of admiration, when the spirit of curiosity 
urges you to penetrate the centre aisle, 



NATURE AND ART. 119 

lo and behold it is but a gate ! The dupe of 
unexpected splendor, you have been paying 
court to the means of approach. It is only 
a portal after all. For as you pass through, 
you catch a glimpse of a building beyond 
more gorgeous still. Like in general to the 
first, unlike it in detail, resembling it only 
as the mistress may the maid. But who 
shall convince of charm by enumerating the 
features of a face ! From the tiles of its 
terrace to the encrusted gables that drape 
it as with some rich bejewelled mantle fall- 
ing about it in the most graceful of folds, 
it is the very eastern princess of a building 
standing in the majesty of her court to give 
you audience. 

A pebbly path, a low flight of stone steps, 
a pause to leave your shoes without the 
sill, and you tread in the twilight of rever- 
ence upon the moss-like mats within. The 
richness of its outer ornament, so impres- 
sive at first, is, you discover, but prelude 
to the lavish luxury of its interior. Lac- 
quer, bronze, pigments, deck its ceiling and 
its sides in such profusion that it seems to 
you as if art had expanded, in the conge- 
nial atmosphere, into a tropical luxuriance 
of decoration, and grew here as naturally 



120 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

on temples as in the jungle creepers do on 
trees. Yet all is but setting to what the 
place contains ; objects of bigotry and vir- 
tue that appeal to the artistic as much as 
to the religious instincts of the devout. 
More sacred still are the things treasured in 
the sanutum of the priests. There you will 
find gems of art for whose sake only the 
most abnormal impersonality can prevent 
you from breaking the tenth commandment. 
Of the value set upon them you can form 
a distant approximation from the exceeding 
richness and the amazing number of the silk 
cloths and lacquered boxes in which they 
are so religiously kept. As you gaze thus, 
amid the soul-satisfying repose of the spot, 
at some masterpiece from the brush of Mo- 
tonobu, you find yourself wondering, in a 
fanciful sort of way, whether Buddhist con- 
templation is not after all only another name 
for the contemplation of the beautiful, since 
devotees to the one are ex officio such vota- 
ries of the other. 

Dissimilar as are these two glimpses of 
Japanese existence, in one point the bustling 
street and the hushed temple are alike, 
in the nameless grace that beautifies both. 

This spirit is even more remarkable for its 



NATURE AND ART. 121 

all-pervasiveness than for its inherent excel- 
lence. Both objectively and subjectively 
its catholicity is remarkable. It imbues 
everything, and affects everybody. So uni- 
versally is it applied to the daily affairs of 
life that there may be said to be no mechan- 
ical arts in Japan simply because all such 
have been raised to the position of fine arts. 
The lowest artisan is essentially an artist. 
Modern French nomenclature on the sub- 
ject, in spite of the satire to which the more 
prosaic Anglo-Saxon has subjected it, is 
peculiarly applicable there. To call a Jap- 
anese cook, for instance, an artist would 
be but the barest acknowledgment of fact, 
for Japanese food is far more beautiful to 
look at than agreeable to eat ; while Tokio 
tailors are certainly masters of drapery, if 
they are sublimely oblivious to the natural 
modelings of the male or female form. 

On the other hand, art is sown, like the 
use of tobacco, broadcast among the people. 
It is the birthright of the Far East, the tal- 
ent it never hides. Throughout the length 
and breadth of the land, and from the high- 
est prince to the humblest peasant, art reigns 
supreme. 

Now such a prevalence of artistic feeling 



122 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

implies of itself impersonality in the people. 
At first sight it might seem as if science did 
the same, and that in this respect the one 
hemisphere offset the other, and that con- 
sequently both should be equally imper- 
sonal. But in the first place, our masses 
are not imbued with the scientific spirit, as 
theirs are with artistic sensibility. Who 
would expect of a mason an impersonal in- 
terest in the principles of the arch, or of a 
plumber a non-financial devotion to hydrau- 
lics ? Certainly one would be wrong in cred- 
iting the masses in general or European 
waiters in particular with much abstract 
love of mathematics, for example. In the 
second place, there is an essential difference 
in the attitude of the two subjects upon per- 
sonality. Emotionally, science appeals to 
nobody, art to everybody. Now the emo- 
tions constitute the larger part of that com- 
plex bundle of ideas which we know as self. 
A thought which is not tinged to some ex- 
tent with feeling is not only not personal ; 
properly speaking, it is not even distinc- 
tively human, but cosmical. In its lofty 
superiority to man, science is unpersonal 
rather than impersonal. Art, on the other 
hand, is a familiar spirit. Through the win- 



NATURE AND ART. 123 

dows of the senses she finds her way into 
the very soul of man, and makes for her- 
self a home there. But it is to his human- 
ity, not to his individuality, that she whis- 
pers, for she speaks in that universal tongue 
which all can understand. 

Examples are not wanting to substantiate 
theory. It is no mere coincidence that the 
two most impersonal nations of Europe and 
Asia respectively, the French and the Jap- 
anese, are at the same time the most artis- 
tic. Even politeness, which, as we have 
seen, distinguishes both, is itself but a form 
of art, the social art of living agreeably 
with one's fellows. 

This impersonality comes out with all 
the more prominence when we pass from, 
the consideration of art in itself to the 
spirit which actuates that art, and espe- 
cially when we compare their spirit with 
our own. The mainsprings of Far Eastern 
art may be said to be three : Nature, Reli- 
gion, and Humor. Incongruous collection 
that they are, all three witness to the same 
trait. For the first typifies concrete imper- 
sonality, the second abstract impersonality, 
while the province of the last is to ridicule 
personality generally. Of the trio the first 



124 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

is altogether the most important. Indeed, 
to a Far Oriental, so fundamental a part 
of himself is his love of Nature that before 
we view its mirrored image it will be well 
to look the emotion itself in the face. The 
Far Oriental lives in a long day-dream of 
beauty. He muses rather than reasons, 
and all musing, so the word itself con- 
fesses, springs from the inspiration of a 
Muse. But this Muse appears not to him, 
as to the Greeks, after the fashion of a 
woman, nor even more prosaically after the 
likeness of a man. Unnatural though it 
seem to us, his inspiration seeks no human 
symbol. His Muse is not kin to mankind. 
She is too impersonal for any personifica- 
tion, for she is Nature. 

That poet whose name carries with it a 
certain presumption of infallibility has told 
us that " the proper study of mankind is 
man ; " and if material advancement in con- 
sequence be any criterion of the fitness of 
a particular mental pursuit, events have 
assuredly justified the saying. Indeed, the 
Levant has helped antithetically to preach 
the same lesson, in showing us by its own 
fatal example that the improper study of 
mankind is woman, and that they who but 
follow the fair will inevitably degenerate. 




THE OLEANDER 



NATURE AND ART. 125 

The Far Oriental knows nothing of either 
study, and cares less. The delight of self- 
exploration, or the possibly even greater de- 
light of losing one's self in trying to fathom 
femininity, is a sensation equally foreign 
to his temperament. Neither tlie remark- 
able persistence of one's own characteristics, 
not infrequently matter of deep regret to 
their possessor, nor the charmingly unac- 
countable variability of the fairer sex, at 
times quite as annoying, is a phenomenon 
sufficient to stir his curiosity. Accepting, 
as he does, the existing state of things more 
as a material fact than as a phase in a 
gradual process of development, he regards 
humanity as but a small part of the great 
natural world, instead of considering it the 
crowning glory of the whole. He recog- 
nizes man merely as a fraction of the uni- 
verse, one might almost say as a vulgar 
fraction of it, considering the low regard 
in which he is held, and accords him his 
proportionate share of attention, and no 
more. 

In his thought, nature is not accessory to 
man. Worthy M. Pe"richon, of prosaic, not 
to say philistinic fame, had, as we remem- 
ber, his travels immortalized in a painting 



126 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

where a colossal Pe*richon in front almost 
completely eclipsed a tiny Mont Blanc be- 
hind. A Far Oriental thinks poetry, which 
may possibly account for the fact that in 
his mind-pictures the relative importance of 
man and mountain stands reversed. " The 
matchless Fuji," first of motifs in his art, 
admits no pilgrim as its peer. 

Nor is it to woman that turn his thoughts. 
Mother Earth is fairer, in his eyes, than 
are any of her daughters. To her is given 
the heart that should be theirs. The Far 
Eastern love of Nature amounts almost to 
a passion. To the study of her ever vary- 
ing moods her Japanese admirer brings an 
impersonal adoration that combines oddly 
the aestheticism of a poet with the asceti- 
cism of a recluse. Not that he worships in 
secret, however. His passion is too genu- 
ine either to find disguise or seek display. 
With us, unfortunately, the love of Nature 
is apt to be considered a mental extrava- 
gance peculiar to poets, excusable in exact 
ratio to the ability to give it expression. 
For an ordinary mortal to feel a fondness 
for Mother Earth is a kind of folly, to be 
carefully concealed from his fellows. A 
sort of shame facedn ess prevents him from 



NATURE AND ART. 127 

avowing it, as a boy at boarding-school 
hides his homesickness, or a lad his love 
He shrinks from appearing less pachy- 
dermatous than the rest. Or else he flies 
to the other extreme, and affects the odd ; 
pretends, poses, parades, and at last suc- 
ceeds half in duping himself, half in de- 
ceiving other people. But with Far Ori- 
entals the case is different. Their love has 
all the unostentatious assurance of what 
has received the sanction of public opinion. 
Nor is it still at that doubtful, hesitating 
stage when, by the instrumentality of a 
third, its soul-harmony can suddenly be 
changed from the jubilant major key into 
the despairing minor. No trace of sadness 
tinges his delight. He has long since 
passed this melancholy phase of erotic mis- 
ery, if so be that the course of his true love 
did not always run smooth, and is now well 
on in matrimonial bliss. The very look of 
the land is enough to betray the fact. In 
Japan the landscape has an air of domes- 
ticity about it, patent even to the most 
casual observer. Wherever the Japanese 
has come in contact with the country he 
has made her unmistakably his own. He 
has touched her to caress, not injure, and 



128 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

it seems as if Nature accepted his fondness 
as a matter of course, and yielded him a 
wifely submission in return. His garden is 
more human, even, than his house. Not 
only is everything exquisitely in keeping 
with man, but natural features are actually 
changed, plastic to the imprint of their 
lord and master's mind. Bushes, shrubs, 
trees, forget to follow their original intent, 
and grow as he wills them to ; now ex- 
panding in wanton luxuriance, now con- 
tracting into dwarf designs of their former 
selves, all to obey his caprice and please 
his eye. Even stubborn rocks lose their 
wildness, and come to seem a part of the 
almost sentient life around them. If the 
description of such dutifulness seems fanci- 
ful, the thing itself surpasses all supposi- 
tion. Hedges and shrubbery, clipped into 
the most fantastic shapes, accept the sug- 
gestion of the pruning-knife as if man's 
wishes were their own whims. Manikin 
maples, Tom Thumb trees, a foot high and 
thirty years old, with all the gnarls and 
knots and knuckles of their fellows of the 
forest, grow in his parterres, their native 
vitality not a whit diminished. And they 
are not regarded as monstrosities but only 



NATURE AND ART. 129 

as the most natural of artificialities ; for 
they are a part of a horticultural whole. 
To walk into a Japanese garden is like 
wandering of a sudden into one of those 
strange worlds we see reflected in the pol- 
ished surface of a concave mirror, where 
all but the observer himself is transformed 
into a fantastic miniature of the reality. In 
that quaint fairyland diminutive rivers flow 
gracefully under tiny trees, past mole-hill 
mountains, till they fall at last into lillipu- 
tian lakes, almost smothered for the flowers 
that grow upon their banks ; while in the 
extreme distance of a couple of rods the 
cone of a Fuji ten feet high looks approv- 
ingly down upon a scene which would be 
nationally incomplete without it. 

But besides the delights of domesticity 
which the Japanese enjoys daily in Nature's 
company, he has his accds de tendresse, too. 
When he feels thus specially stirred, he in- 
vites a chosen few of his friends, equally 
infatuated, and together they repair to 
some spot noted for its scenery. It may 
be a waterfall, or some dreamy pond over- 
hung by trees, or the distant glimpse of a 
mountain peak framed in picture-wise be- 
tween the nearer hills ; or, at their appro- 



130 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

priate seasons, the blossoming of the many 
tree flowers, which in eastern Asia are 
beautiful beyond description. For he ap- 
preciates not only places, but times. One 
spot is to be seen at sunrise, another by 
moonlight ; one to be visited in the spring- 
time, another in the fall. But wherever or 
whenever it be, a tea-house, placed to com- 
mand the best view of the sight, stands 
ready to receive him. For nature's beau- 
ties are too well recognized to remain the 
exclusive property of the first chance lover. 
People flock to view nature as we do to see 
a play, and privacy is as impossible as it 
is unsought. Indeed, the aversion to pub- 
licity is simply a result of the sense of 
self, and therefore necessarily not a feature 
of so impersonal a civilization. ^Esthetic 
guidebooks are written for the nature en- 
amoured, descriptive of these views which 
the Japanese translator quaintly calls 
" Sceneries," and which visitors come not 
only from near but from far to gaze upon. 
In front of the tea-house proper are rows 
of summer pavilions, in one of which the 
party make themselves at home, while 
gentle little tea-house girls toddle forth to 
serve them the invariable preliminary tea 



NATURE AND ART. 131 

and confections. Each man then produces 
from up his sleeve, or from out his girdle, 
paper, ink, and brush, and proceeds to com- 
pose a poern on the beauty of the spot and 
the feelings it calls up, which he subse- 
quently reads to his admiring companions. 
Hot sake is next served, which is to them 
what beer is to a German or absinthe to a 
blouse ; and there they sit, sip, and poetize, 
passing their couplets, as they do their cups, 
in honor to one another. At last, after 
drinking in an hour or two of scenery and 
sake combined, the symposium of poets 
breaks up. 

Sometimes, instead of a company of 
friends, a man will take his family, wife, 
babies, and all, on such an outing, but the 
details of his holiday are much the same as 
before. For the scenery is still the centre 
of attraction, and in the attendant creature 
comforts Far Eastern etiquette permits an 
equal enjoyment to man, woman, and child. 
This love of nature is quite irrespective 
of social condition. All classes feel its 
force, and freely indulge the feeling. Poor 
as well as rich, low as well as high, con- 
trive to gratify their poetic instincts for 
natural scenery. As for flowers, especially 



132 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

tree flowers, or those of the larger plants, 
like the lotus or the iris, the Japanese ap- 
preciation of their beauty is as phenomenal 
as is that beauty itself. Those who can 
afford the luxury possess the shrubs in pri- 
vate; those who cannot, feast their eyes on 
the public specimens. From a sprig in a 
vase to a park planted on purpose, there is 
no part of them too small or too great to be 
excluded from Far Oriental affection. And 
of the two "drawing-rooms" of the Mikado 
held every year, in April and November, 
both are garden-parties : the one given at 
the time and with the' title of " the cherry 
blossoms," and the other of " the chrysan- 
themum." 

These same tree flowers deserve more 
than a passing notice, not simply because of 
their amazing beauty, which would arrest 
attention anywhere, but for the national at- 
titude toward them. For no better example 
of the Japanese passion for nature could 
well be cited. If the anniversaries of peo- 
ple are slightingly treated in the land of the 
sunrise, the same cannot be said of plants. 
The yearly birthdays of the vegetable 
world are observed with more than botanic 
enthusiasm. The regard in which they are 



NATURE AND ART. 133 

held is truly emotional, and if not actually 
individual in its object, at least personal 
to the species. Each kind of tree as its 
season brings it into flower is made the 
occasion of a festival. For the beauty of 
the blossoming receives the tribute of a na- 
tional admiration. From peers to populace 
mankind turns out to witness it. Nor are 
these occasions few. Spring in the Far 
East is one long chain of flower fetes, and 
as spring begins by the end of January 
and lasts till the middle of June, opportuni- 
ties for appreciating each in turn are not 
half spoiled by a common contemporaneous- 
ness. People have not only occasion but 
time to admire. Indeed, spring itself is 
suitably respected by being dated conform- 
ably to fact. Far Orientals begin their 
year when Nature begins hers, instead of 
starting anachronously as we do in the 
very middle of the dead season, much as 
our colleges hold their commencements, 
on the last in place of on the first day 
of the academic term. So previous has 
the haste of Western civilization become. 
The result is that our rejoicing partakes of 
the incongruity of humor. The new year 
exists only in name. In the Far East, on 



134 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the other hand, the calendar is made to fit 
the time. Men begin to reckon their year 
some three weeks later than the Western 
world, just as the plum-tree opens its pink 
white petals, as it were, in rosy reflection 
of the snow that lies yet upon the ground. 
But the coldness of the weather does not 
in the least deter people from thronging 
the spot in which the trees grow, where 
they spend hours in admiration, and end 
by pinning appropriate poems on the twigs 
for later comers to peruse. Fleeting as 
the flowers are in fact, they live forever in 
fancy. For they constitute one of the com- 
monest motifs of both painting and poetry. 
A branch just breaking into bloom seen 
against the sunrise sky, or a bough bending 
its blossoms to the bosom of a stream, is 
subject enough for their greatest masters, 
who thus wed, as it were, two arts in one, 
the spirit of poesy with pictorial form. 
This plum-tree is but a blossom. Preco- 
cious harbinger of a host of flowers, its gay 
heralding over, it vanishes not to be re- 
called, for it bears no edible fruit. 

The next event in the series might fairly 
be called phenomenal. Early in April takes 
place what is perhaps as superb a sight as 







PINNING A POEM ON THE TREE 



NATURE AND ART. 135 

anything in this world, the blossoming of 
the cherry-trees. Indeed, it is not easy to 
do the thing justice in description. If the 
plum invited admiration, the cherry com- 
mands it ; for to see the sakura in flower 
for the first time is to experience a new 
sensation. Familiar as a man may be with 
cherry blossoms at home, the sight there 
bursts upon him with the dazzling effect 
of a revelation. Such is the profusion of 
flowers that the tree seems to have turned 
into a living mass of rosy light. No leaves 
break the brilliance. The snowy-pink petals 
drape the branches entirely, yet so deli- 
cately, one deems it all a veil donned for the 
tree's nuptials with the spring. For noth- 
ing could more completely personify the 
spirit of the springtime. You can almost 
fancy it some dryad decked for her bridal, 
in maidenly day-dreaming too lovely to 
last. For like the plum the cherry fails 
in its fruit to fulfil the promise of its 
flower. 

It would be strange indeed if so much 
beauty received no recognition, but it is 
even more strange that recognition should 
be so complete and so universal as it is. 
Appreciation is not confined to the culti- 



136 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

vated few ; it is shown quite as enthusi- 
astically by the masses. The popularity of 
the plants is all-embracing. The common 
people are as sensitive to their beauty as 
are the upper classes. Private gratifica- 
tion, roseate as it is, pales beside the pub- 
lic delight. Indeed, not content with what 
revelation Nature makes of herself of her 
own accord, man has multiplied her mani- 
festations. Spots suitable to their growth 
have been peopled by him with trees. 
Sometimes they stand in groups like star- 
clusters, as in Oji, crowning a hill ; some- 
times, as at Mukojima, they line an avenue 
for miles, dividing the blue river on the one 
hand from the blue-green rice-fields on the 
other, a floral milky way of light. But 
wherever the trees may be, there at their 
flowering season are to be found throngs of 
admirers. For in crowds people go out to 
see the sight, multitudes streaming inces- 
santly to and fro beneath their blossoms as 
the time of day determines the turn of the 
human tide. To the Occidental stranger 
such a gathering suggests some social load- 
stone ; but none exists. In the cherry-trees 
alone lies the attraction. 

For one week out of the fifty-two the 



NATURE AND ART. 137 

cherry-tree stands thus glorified, a vision 
of beauty prolonged somewhat by the want 
of synchronousness of the different kinds. 
Then the petals fall. What was a nuptial 
veil becomes a winding-sheet, covering the 
sod as with winter's winding-sheet of snow, 
destined itself to disappear, and the tree 
is nothing but a common cherry-tree once 
more. 

But flowers are by no means over be- 
cause the cherry blossoms are past. A 
brief space, and the same crowds that 
flocked to the cherry turn to the wistaria. 
Gardens are devoted to the plants, and 
the populace greatly given to the gardens. 
There they go to sit and gaze at the grape- 
like clusters of pale purple flowers that 
hang more than a cubit long over the 
wooden trellis, and grow daily down toward 
their own reflections in the pond beneath, 
vying with one another in Narcissus-like 
endeavor. And the people, as they sip 
their tea on the veranda opposite, behold a 
doubled delight, the flower itself and its 
mirrored image stretching to kiss. 

After the wistaria comes the tree-peony, 
and then the iris, with its trefoil flowers 
broader than a man may span, and of all 



138 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

colors under the sky. To one who has seen 
the great Japanese fleur-de-lis, France looks 
ludicrously infelicitous in her choice of em- 
blem. 

But the list grows too long, limited as it 
is only by its own annual repetition. We 
have as yet reached but the first week in 
June ; the summer and autumn are still to 
come, the first bringing the lotus for its 
crown, and the second the chrysanthemum. 
And lazily grand the lotus is, itself the 
embodiment of the spirit of the drowsy 
August air, the very essence of Buddha- 
like repose. The castle moats are its spe- 
cial domain, which in this its flowering 
season it wrests wholly from their more 
proper occupant the water. A dense 
growth of leather-like leaves, above which 
rise in majestic isolation the solitary flow- 
ers, encircles the outer rampart, shutting 
the castle in as it might be the palace 
of the Sleeping Beauty. In the delightful 
dreaminess that creeps over one as he stands 
thus before some old daimyo's former abode 
in the heart of Japan, he forgets all his 
metaphysical difficulties about Nirvana, for 
he fancies he has found it, one long Lotus 
afternoon. 



NATURE AND ART. 139 

And then last, but in some sort first, 
since it has been taken for the imperial 
insignia, comes the chrysanthemum. The 
symmetry of its shape well fits it to sym- 
bolize the completeness of perfection which 
the Mikado, the son of heaven, mundanely 
represents. It typifies, too, the fullness of 
the year ; for it marks, as it were, the golden 
wedding of the spring, the reminiscence in 
November of the nuptials of the May. Its 
own color, however, is not confined to gold. 
It may be of almost any hue and within the 
general limits of a circle of any form. Now 
it is a chariot wheel with petals for spokes ; 
now a ball of fire with lambent tongues of 
flame ; while another kind seems the but- 
ton of some natural legion of honor, and still 
another a pin-wheel in Nature's own day- 
fireworks. 

Admired as a thing of beauty for its own 
sake, it is also used merely as a material for 
artistic effects ; for among the quaintest of 
such conceits are the Japanese Jarley chrys- 
anthemum works. Every November in 
the florists' gardens that share the temple 
grounds at Asakusa may be seen groups 
of historical and mythological figures coin- 
posed entirely of chrysanthemum flowers. 



140 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

These effigies are quite worthy of compari- 
son with their London cousins, being suffi- 
ciently life-like to terrify children and star- 
tle anybody. To come suddenly, on turning 
a corner, upon a colossal warrior, deterreritly 
uncouth and frightfully battle-clad, in the 
act of dispatching a fallen foe, is a sensa- 
tion not instantly dispelled by the fact that 
he is made of flowers. The practice, at 
least, bears witness to an artistic ingenuity 
of no mean merit, and to a horticulture 
ably carried on, if somewhat eccentrically 
applied. 

From the passing of the chrysanthemum 
dates the dead season. But it is suitably 
short-lived. Sometimes as early as Novem- 
ber, the plum - tree is already blossoming 
again. 

Even from so imperfectly gathered a gar- 
land it will be seen that the Japanese do 
not lack for opportunities to admire, nor 
do they turn coldly away from what they 
are given. Indeed, they may be said to 
live in a chronic state of flower-fever; but 
in spite of the vast amount of admiration 
which they bestow on plants, it is not so 
much the quantity of that admiration as 
the quality of it which is remarkable. The 



NATURE AND ART. 141 

intense appreciation shown the subject by 
the Far Oriental is something whose very 
character seems strange to us, and when in 
addition we consider that it permeates the 
entire people from the commonest coolie to 
the most sesthetic courtier, it becomes to 
onr comprehension a state of things little 
short of inexplicable. To call it artistic 
sensibility is to use too limited a term, for 
it pervades the entire people ; rather is it a 
sixth sense of a natural, because national 
description ; for the trait differs from our 
corresponding feeling in degree, and espe- 
cially in universality enough to merit the 
distinction. Their care for tree flowers is 
not confined to a cultivation, it is a cult. It 
approaches to a sort of natural nature-wor- 
ship, an adoration in which nothing is per- 
sonified. For the emotion aroused in the 
Far Oriental is just as truly an emotion 
as it was to the Greek ; but whereas the 
Greek personified its object, the Japanese 
admires that object for what it is. To 
think of the cherry-tree, for instance, as a 
woman, would be to his mind a conception 
transcending even the limits of the ludi 
crous. 



VI. 

ABT. 

THAT nature, not man, is their beau 
ideal, the source of inspiration to them, is 
evident again on looking at their art. The 
same spirit that makes of them such won- 
derful landscape gardeners and. such won- 
der-full landscape gazers shows itself unmis- 
takably in their paintings. 

The current impression that Japanese 
pictorial ambition, and consequent skill, is 
confined to the representation of birds and 
flowers, though entirely erroneous as it 
stands, has a grain of truth behind it. 
This idea is due to the attitude of the for- 
eign observers, and was in fact a tribute to 
Japanese technique rather than an appre- 
ciation of Far Eastern artistic feeling. The 
truth is, the foreigners brought to the sub- 
ject their own Western criteria of merit, 
and judged everything by these standards. 
Such works naturally commended them- 
uelves most as had least occasion to de- 



ART. 143 

viate from their canons. The simplest pic- 
tures, therefore, were pronounced the best. 
Paintings of birds and flowers were thus 
admitted to be fine, because their realism 
spoke for itself. Of the exquisite poetic 
feeling of their landscape paintings the for- 
eign critics were not at first conscious, be- 
cause it was not expressed in terms with 
which they were familiar. 

But first impressions, here as elsewhere, 
are valuable. One is very apt to turn to 
them again from the reasoning of his sec- 
ond thoughts. Flora and fauna are a con- 
spicuous feature of Far Asiatic art, because 
they enter as details of the subject-matter 
of the artist's thoughts and day-dreams. 
These birds and flowers are his sujets de 
genre. Where we should select a phase 
of human life for effective isolation, they 
choose instead a bit of nature. A spray of 
grass or a twig of cherry-blossoms is motif 
enough for them. To their thought its 
beauty is amply suggestive. For to the 
Far Oriental all nature is sympathetically 
sentient. His admiration, instead of being 
centred on man, embraces the universe. 
His art reflects it. 

Leaving out of consideration, for the 



144 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

moment, minor though still important dis- 
tinctions in tone, treatment, and technique, 
the great fundamental difference between 
Western and Far Eastern art lies in its 
attitude toward humanity. 

With us, from the time of the Greeks to 
the present day, man has been the cynosure 
of artistic eyes ; with them he has never 
been vouchsafed more than a casual, not 
to say a cursory glance, even woman failing 
to rivet his attention. One of our own 
writers has said that, without passing the 
bounds of due respect, a man is permitted 
two looks at any woman he may meet, one 
to recognize, one to admire. A Japanese 
ordinarily never dreams of taking but one, 
if indeed he goes so far as that, the 
first. It is the omitting to take that sec- 
ond look that has left him what he is. Not 
that Fortune has been unpropitious ; only 
blind. Fate has offered him opportunity 
enough ; too much, perhaps. For in Japan 
the exposure of the female form is without 
a parallel in latitude. Never nude, it is fre- 
quently naked. The result artistically is 
much the same, though the cause be differ- 
ent. For it is a fatal mistake to suppose 
the Japanese an immodest people. Ac- 



ART. 145 

cording to their own standards, they are 
exceedingly modest. No respectable Japa- 
nese woman would, for instance, ever for a 
moment turn out her toes in walking. It 
is considered immodest to do so. Their 
code is, however, not so whimsical as this 
bit of etiquette might suggest. The intent 
is with them the touchstone of propriety. 
In their eyes a state of nature is not a 
state of indecency. Whatever exposure is 
required for convenience is right ; whatever 
unnecessary, wrong. Such an Eden-like 
condition of society would seem to be the 
very spot for a something like the modern 
French school of art to have developed in. 
And yet it is just that study of the nude 
which has from immemorial antiquity been 
entirely neglected in the Far East. An an- 
cient Greek, to say nothing of a modern 
Parisian, would have shocked a Japanese. 
Yet we are shocked by them. We are 
astounded at the sights we see in their 
country villages, while they in their turn 
marvel at the exhibitions they witness in 
our city theatres. At their watering-places 
the two sexes bathe promiscuously together 
in all the simplicity of nature ; but for a 
Japanese woman to appear on the stage in 



146 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

any character, however proper, would be 
deemed indecent. The difference between 
the two hemispheres may be said to consist 
in an artless liberty on the one hand, and 
artistic license on the other. Their un- 
written code of propriety on the subject 
seems to be, " You must see, but you may 
not observe." 

These people live more in accordance 
with their code of propriety than we do 
with ours. All classes alike conform to it. 
The adjective " respectable," used above as 
a distinction in speaking of woman, was in 
reality superfluous, for all women there, as 
far as appearance goes, are respectable. 
Even the most abandoned creature does not 
betray her status by her behavior. The 
reason of this uniformity and its psycho- 
logical importance I shall discuss later. 

This -form of modesty, a sort of want of 
modesty of form, has no connection what- 
ever with sex. It applies with equal force 
to the male figure, which is even more ex- 
posed than the female, and offers anatomi- 
cal suggestions invaluable alike to the ar- 
tistic and medical professions, sugges- 
tions that are equally ignored by both. 
The coolies are frequently possessed of 



ART. 147 

physiques which would have delighted 
Michael Angelo ; and as for the phenome- 
nal corpulency of the wrestlers, it would 
have made of the place a very paradise for 
Rubens. In regard to the doctors, for 
to call them surgeons would be to give a 
name to what does not exist, a lack of 
scientific zeal has been the cause of their 
not investigating what tempts too seduc- 
tively, we should imagine, to be ignored. 
Acupuncture, or the practice of sticking 
long pins into any part of the patient's 
body that may happen to be paining him, 
pretty much irrespective of anatomical po- 
sition, is the nearest approach to surgery 
of which they are guilty, and proclaims of 
i'tself the in cor pore mil character of the 
thing operated upon. 

Nor does the painter owe anything to 
science. He represents humanity simply 
as he sees it in its every -day costume ; and 
it betokens the highest powers of general- 
ized observation that he produces the re- 
sults he does. In his drawings, man is 
shown, not as he might look in the primi- 
tive, or privitive, simplicity of his ancestral 
Garden of Eden, but as he does look in the 
ordinary wear and tear of his present gar- 



148 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ments. Civilization has furnished him with 
clothes, and he prefers, when he has his 
picture taken, to keep them on. 

In dealing with man, the Far Oriental 
artist is emphatically a realist; it is when 
he turns to nature that he becomes ideal. 
But by ideal is not meant here conven- 
tional. That term of reproach is a mis- 
nomer, founded upon a mistake. His 
idealism is simply the outcome of his love, 
which, like all human love, transfigures its 
object. The Far Oriental has plenty of 
this, which, if sometimes a delusion, seems 
also second sight, but it is peculiarly imper- 
sonal. His color-blindness to the warm, 
blood-red end of the spectrum. of life in no 
wise affects his perception of the colder 
beauty of the great blues and greens of 
nature. To their poetry he is ever sensi- 
tive. His appreciation of them is some- 
thing phenomenal, and his power of pres- 
entation worthy his appreciation. 

A Japanese painting ie a poem rather 
than a picture. It portrays an emotion 
called up by a scene, and not the scene 
itself in all its elaborate complexity. It 
undertakes to give only so much of it as is 
vital to that particular feeling, and in ten. 




A GLIMPSE OF THE SOUL or NATURE 



ART. 149 

tionally omits all irrelevant details. It is 
the expression caught from a glimpse of the 
soul of nature by the soul of man ; the 
mirror of a mood, passing, perhaps, in fact, 
but perpetuated thus to fancy. Being an 
emotion, its intensity is directly propor- 
tional to the singleness with which it pos- 
sesses the thoughts. The Far Oriental 
fully realizes the power of simplicity. 
This principle is his fundamental canon 
of pictorial art. To understand his paint- 
ings, it is from this standpoint they must be 
regarded ; not as soulless photographs of 
scenery, but as poetic presentations of the 
spirit of the scenes. The very charter of 
painting depends upon its not giving us 
charts. And if with us a long poem be 
a contradiction in terms, a full picture is 
with them as self-condemnatory a produc- 
tion. From the contemplation of such 
works of art as we call finished, one is 
apt, after he has once appreciated Far 
Eastern taste, to rise with an unpleasant 
feeling of satiety, as if he has eaten too 
much at the feast. 

Their paintings, by comparison, we call 
sketches. Is not our would-be slight un- 
wittingly the reverse? Is not a sketch, 



150 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

after all, fuller of meaning, to one who 
knows how to read it, than a finished affair, 
which is very apt to end with itself, barren 
of fruit? Does not one's own imagination 
elude one's power to portray it? Is it not 
forever flitting will-o'-the-wisp-like ahead of 
us just beyond exact definition ? For the 
soul of art lies in what art can suggest, and 
nothing is half so suggestive as the half ex- 
pressed, not even a double entente. To hint 
a great deal by displaying a little is more 
vital to effect than the cleverest represen- 
tation of the whole. The art of partially 
revealing is more telling, even, than the 
ars celare artem. Who has not suspected 
through a veil a fairer face than veil ever 
hid? Who has not been delightedly duped 
by the semi-disclosures of a dress? The 
principle is just as true in any one branch 
of art as it is of the attempted develop- 
ments by one of the suggestions of another. 
Yet who but has thus felt its force ? Who 
has not had a shock of day-dream dese- 
cration on chancing upon an illustrated 
edition of some book whose story he had 
lain to heart ? Portraits of people, pictures 
of places, he does not know, and yet which 
purport to be his ! And I venture to be- 



ART. 151 

lieve that to more than one of us the ex- 
quisite pathos of the Bride of Lammermoor 
is gone when Lucia warbles her woes, be 
it never so entrancingly, to an admiring 
house. It almost seems as if the garish 
publicity of using her name for operatic 
title were a special intervention of the 
Muse, that we might the less connect song 
witht story, two sensations that, like two 
lights, destroy one another by mutual inter- 
ference. 

Against this preference shown the sketch 
it may be urged that to appreciate such 
suggestions presupposes as much art in the 
public as in the painter. But the ability 
to appreciate a thing when expressed is but 
half that necessary to express it. Some un- 
derstanding must exist in the observer for 
any work to be intelligible. It is only a 
question of degree. The greater the art- 
sense in the person addressed, the more 
had better be left to it. Now in Japan the 
public is singularly artistic. In fact, the 
artistic appreciation of the masses there is 
something astonishing to us, accustomed 
to our immense intellectual differences be- 
tween man and man. Sketches are thus 
peculiarly fitting to such a land. 



152 THE SOUL OF TUE FAR EAST. 

Besides, there is a quiet modesty about 
the sketch which is itself taking. To at- 
tempt the complete even in a fractional bit 
of the cosmos, like a picture, has in it a dif- 
ficulty akin to the logical one of proving 
a universal negative. The possibilities of 
failure are enormously increased, and fail- 
ure is less forgiven for the assumption. 
Art might perhaps not unwisely follow the 
example of science in such matters where 
an exhaustive work, which takes the better 
part of a lifetime to produce, is invariably 
entitled by its erudite author an Elemen- 
tary Treatise on the subject in hand. 

To aid the effect due to simplicity of 
conception steps in the Far Oriental's won- 
derful technique. His brush - strokes are 
very few in number, but each one tells. 
They are laid on with a touch which is 
little short of marvelous, and requires he- 
redity to explain its skill. For in his 
method there is no emending, no super- 
position, no change possible. What he 
does is done once and for all. The force 
of it grows on you as you gaze. Each 
stroke expresses surprisingly much, and 
suggests more. Even omissions are made 
significant. In his painting it is visibly 




THE STORKS 



ART. 153 

true that objects can be rendered conspicu- 
ous by their very absence. You are quite 
sure you see what on scrutiny you discover 
to be only the illusion of inevitable infer- 
ence. The Far Oriental artist understands 
the power of suggestion well ; for imagina- 
tion always fills in the picture better than 
the brush, however perfect be its skill. 

Even the neglect of certain general prin- 
ciples which we consider vital to effect, such 
as the absence of shadows and the lack of 
perspective, proves not to be of the impor- 
tance we imagine. We discover in these 
paintings how immaterial, artistically, was 
Peter Schlimmel's sad loss, and how per- 
fectly possible it is to make bits of discon- 
tinuous distance take the place effectively 
of continuous space. 

Far Eastern pictures are epigrams rather 
than descriptions. They present a bit of 
nature with the terseness of a maxim 
of La Rochefoucault, and they delight as 
aphorisms do by their insight and the 
happy conciseness of its expression. Few 
aphorisms are absolutely true, but then 
boldness more than makes up for what they 
lack in verity. So complex a subject is 
life that to state a truth with all its accom- 



154 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

panying limitations is to weaken it at once. 
Exceptions, while demonstrating the rule, 
do not tend to emphasize it. And though 
the whole truth is essential to science, such 
exhaustiveness is by no means a canon of 
art. 

Parallels are not wanting at home. What 
they do with space in their paintings do we 
not with time in the case of our comedies, 
those acted pictures of life ? Should we 
not refuse to tolerate a play that insisted 
on furnishing us with a full perspective of 
its characters' past ? And yet of the two, it 
is far perferable, artistically, to be given too 
much in sequence than too much at once. 
The Chinese, who put much less into a 
painting than what we deem indispensable, 
delight in dramas that last six weeks. 

To give a concluding touch of life to my 
necessarily skeleton-like generalities, mem- 
ory pictures me a certain painting of Okio's 
which I fell in love with at first sight. It 
is of a sunrise on the coast of Japan. A 
long line of surf is seen tumbling in to 
you from out a bank of mist, just piercing 
which shows the blood-red disk of the ris- 
ing sun, while over the narrow strip of 
breaking rollers three cranes are slowly 




THE ART OF JAPAN 



ART. 155 

sailing north. And that is all you see. 
You do not see the shore ; you do not see 
the main ; you are looking but at the 
border- land of that great unknown, the 
heaving ocean still slumbering beneath its 
chilly coverlid of mist, out of which come 
the breakers, and the sun, and the cranes. 

So much for the more serious side of Ja- 
panese fancy ; a look at the lighter leads to 
the same conclusion. 

Hand in hand with his keen poetic sensi- 
bility goes a vivid sense of humor, two 
traits that commonly, indeed, are found 
Maying together over the meadows of im- 
agination. For, as it might be put, 

" The heart that is soonest awake to the flowers 
Is also the first to be touched by the fun." 

The Far Oriental well exemplifies this fact. 
His art, wherever fun is possible, fairly bub- 
bles over with laughter. From the oldest 
masters down to Hokusai, it is constantly 
welling up in the drollest conceits. It is 
of all descriptions, too. Now it lurks in 
merry ambush, like the faint suggestion of 
a smile on an otherwise serious face, so 
subtile that the observer is left wondering 
whether the artist could have meant what 
seems more like one's own ingenious dis- 



156 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

covery; now it breaks out into the broadest 
of grins, absurd juxtapositions of singularly 
happy incongruities. For Hokusai's cari- 
catures and Hendschel's sketches might be 
twins. If there is a difference, it lies not so 
much in the artist's work as in the greater 
generality of its appreciation. Humor flits 
easily there at the sea-level of the multitude. 
For the Japanese temperament is ever on 
the verge of a smile which breaks out with 
catching naivete* at the first provocation. 
The language abounds in puns which are 
not suffered to lie idle, and even poetry 
often hinges on certain consecrated plays on 
words. From the very constitution of the 
people there is of coarse nothing selfish in 
the national enjoyment. A man is quite as 
ready to laugh at his own expense as at his 
neighbor's, a courtesy which his neighbor 
cordially returns. 

Now the ludicrous is essentially human in 
its application. The principle of the syn- 
thesis of contradictories, popularly known 
by the name of humor, is necessarily limited 
in its fiVld to man. For whether it have to 
do wholly with actions, or partly with the 
words that express them, whether it be pre- 
sented in the shape of a pun or a pleas- 



ART. 157 

antry, it is in incongruous contrasts that its 
virtue lies. It is the unexpected that pro- 
vokes the smile. Now no such incongruity 
exists in nature ; man enjoys a monopoly 
of the power of making himself ridiculous. 
So pleasant is pleasantry that we do indeed 
cultivate it beyond its proper pale. But it 
is only by personifying Nature, and gratui- 
tously attributing to her errors of which 
she is incapable, that we can make fun of 
her; as, for instance, when we hold the 
weather up to ridicule by way of impotent 
revenge. But satires upon the clown-like 
character of our climate, which, after the 
lamest sort of a spring, somehow manages 
a capital fall, would in the Far East be as 
out of keeping with fanny as with fact. To 
a Japanese, who never personifies anything, 
such innocent irony is unmeaning. Besides, 
it would be also untrue. For his May 
carries no suggestion of unfulfilment in its 
name. 

Those Far Eastern paintings which have 
to do with man fall for the most part 
under one of two heads, the facetious and 
the historical. The latter implies no partic- 
ularly intimate concern for man in himself, 
for the past has very little personality for 



158 THE SOUL OF TEE FAR EAST. 

the present. As for the former, its atten- 
tion is, if anything, derogatory to him, for 
we are always shy of making fun of what 
we feel to be too closely a part of ourselves. 
But impersonality has prevented the Far 
Oriental from having much amour propre. 
He has no particular aversion to carica- 
turing himself. Few Europeans, perhaps, 
would have cared to perpetrate a self-por- 
trait like one painted by the potter Kinsei, 
which was sold me one day as an amusing 
tour de force by a facetious picture-dealer. 
It is a composite picture of a new kind, a 
Japanese variety of type face. The great 
potter, who was also apparently no mean 
painter, has combined three aspects of him- 
self in a single representation. At first 
sight the portrait appears to be simply a 
full front view of a somewhat moon-faced 
citizen ; but as you continue to gaze, it sud- 
denly dawns on you that there are two 
other individuals, one on either side, hob- 
nobbing in profile with the first, the lines 
of the features being ingeniously made to 
do double duty ; and when this aspect of the 
thing has once struck you, you cannot look 
at the picture without seeing all three citi- 
zens simultaneously. The result is doubt- 



ART. 159 

less more effective as a composition than 
flattering as a likeness. 

Far Eastern sculpture, by its secondary 
importance among Far Eastern arts, wit- 
nesses again to the secondary importance 
assigned to man at our mental antipodes. 
In this art, owing to its necessary limita- 
tions, the representation of nature in its 
broader sense is impossible. For in the 
first place, whatever the subject, it must be 
such as it is possible to present in one con- 
tinuous piece ; disconnected adjuncts, as, 
for instance, a flock of birds flying, which 
might be introduced with great effect in 
painting, being here practically beyond the 
artist's reach. Secondly, the material be- 
ing of uniform appearance, as a rule, color, 
or even shading, vital points in landscape 
portrayal, is out of the question, unless the 
piece were subsequently painted, as in Gre- 
cian sculptures, a custom which is not prac- 
tised in China or Japan. Lastly, another 
fact fatal to the representation of landscape 
is the size. The reduced scale of the repro- 
duction suggests falsity at once, a falsity 
whose belittlement the mind can neither 
forget nor forgive. Plain sculpture is there- 
fore practically limited to statuary, either 



160 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

of men or animals. The result is that in 
their art, where landscape counts for so 
much, sculpture plays a very minor part. 
In what little there is, Nature's place is 
taken by Buddha. For there are two 
classes of statues, divided the one from 
the other by that step which separates the 
sublime from the ridiculous, namely, the 
colossal and the diminutive. There is no 
happy human mean. Of the first kind are 
the beautiful bronze figures of the Buddha, 
like the Kamakura Buddha, fifty feet high 
and ninety-seven feet round, in whose face 
all that is grand and noble lies sleeping, 
the living representation of Nirvana ; and 
of the second, those odd little ornaments 
known as netsuke, comical carvings for the 
most part, grotesque figures of men and 
monkeys, saints and sinners, gods and dev- 
ils. Appealing bits of ivory, bone, or wood 
they are, in which the dumb animals are 
as speaking likenesses as their human fel- 
lows. 

The other arts show the same motif in 
their decorations. Pottery and lacquer 
alike witness the respective positions as- 
signed to the serious and the comic in Far 
Eastern feeling. 



ART. 161 

The Far Oriental makes fun of man and 
makes love to Nature ; and it almost seems 
as if Nature heard his silent prayer, and 
smiled upon him in acceptance ; as if the 
love-light lent her face the added beauty 
that it lends the maid's. For nowhere in 
this world, probably, is she lovelier than in 
Japan : a climate of long, happy means 
and short extremes, months of spring and 
months of autumn, with but a few weeks 
of winter in between ; a land of flowers, 
where the lotus and the cherry, the plum 
and wistaria, grow wantonly side by side ; 
a land where the bamboo embosoms the 
maple, where the pine at last has found its 
palm-tr^e, and the tropic and the temperate 
zones forget their separate identity in one 
long self-obliterating kiss. 



VIL 

RELIGION. 

IN regard to their religion, nations, like 
individuals, seem singularly averse to prac- 
tising what they have preached. Whether 
it be that his self-constructed idols prove to 
the maker too suggestive of his own intel- 
lectual chisel to deceive him for long, or 
whether sacred soil, like less hallowed 
ground, becomes after a time incapable of 
responding to repeated sowings of the same 
seed, certain it is that in spiritual matters 
most peoples have grown out of conceit 
with their own conceptions. An individ- 
ual may cling with a certain sentiment to 
the religion of his mother, but nations 
have shown anything but a foolish fond- 
ness for the sacred superstitions of their 
great-grandfathers. To the charm of crea- 
tion succeeds invariably the bitter-sweet 
after -taste of criticism, and man would 
not be the progressive animal he is if he 
long remained in love with his own pro- 
ductions. 




IN LOTUS LAND 



RELIGION. 163 

What his future will be is too engross- 
ing a subject, and one too deeply shrouded 
in mystery, not to be constantly pictured 
anew. No wonder that the consideration of 
that country toward which mankind is ever 
being hastened should prove as absorbing 
to fancy as contemplated earthly journeys 
proverbially are. Few people but have 
laid out skeleton tours through its ideal 
regions, and perhaps, as in the mapping 
beforehand of merely mundane travels, one 
element of attraction has always consisted 
in the possible revision of one's routes. 

Besides, there is a fascination about the 
foreign merely because it is such. Dis- 
tance lends enchantment to the views of 
others, and never more so than when those 
views are religious visions. An enthusiast 
has certainly a greater chance of being 
taken for a god among a people who do not 
know him intimately as a man. So with 
his doctrines. The imported is apt to seem 
more important than the home-made ; as 
the far-off bewitches more easily than the 
near. But just as castles in the air do not 
commonly become the property of their 
builders, so mansions in the skies almost 
as frequently have failed of direct inner- 



164 THE SOUL OF TEE FAR EAST. 

itance. Rather strikingly has this proved 
the case with what are to-day the two most 
powerful religions of the world, Bud- 
dhism and Christianity. Neither is now the 
belief of its founder's people. What was 
Aryan-born has become Turanian-bred, and 
what was Semitic by conception is at pres- 
ent Aryan by adoption. The possibilities 
of another's hereafter look so much rosier 
than the limitations of one's own present! 

Few pastimes are more delightful than 
tossing pebbles into some still, dark pool, 
and watching the ripples that rise respon- 
sive, as they run in ever widening circles 
to the shore. Most of us have felt its 
fascination second only to that of the dot- 
ted spiral of the skipping-stone, a fascina- 
tion not outgrown with years. There is 
something singularly attractive in the sub- 
tle force that for a moment sways each 
particle only to pass on to the next, a mo- 
tion mysterious in its immateriality. Some 
such pleasure must be theirs who have 
thrown their thoughts into the hearts of 
men, and seen them spread in waves of feel- 
ing, whose sphere time widens through 
the world. For like the mobile water is 
the mind of man, quick to catch emo- 



RELIGION. 105 

tions, quick to transmit them. Of all waves 
of feeling, this is not the least true of reli- 
gious ones, that, starting from their birth- 
place, pass out to stir others, who have but 
humanity in common with those who pro- 
fessed them first. Like the ripples in the 
pool, they leave their initial converts to 
sink back again into comparative quies- 
cence, as they advance to throw into sud- 
den tremors hordes of outer barbarians. In 
both of the great religions in question this 
wave propagation has been most marked, 
only the direction it took differed. Chris- 
tianity went westward ; Buddhism travelled 
east. Proselytes in Asia Minor, Greece, 
and Italy find counterparts in Eastern In- 
dia, Burmah, and Thibet. Eventually the 
taught surpassed their teachers both in zeal 
and numbers. Jerusalem and Benares at 
last gave place to Rome and Lassa as sa- 
cerdotal centres. Still the movement jour- 
neyed on. Popes and Lhamas remained 
where their predecessors had founded sees, 
but the tide of belief surged past them in 
its irresistible advance. Farther yet from 
where each faith began are to be found 
to-day the greater part of its adherents. 
The home that the Western hemisphere 



166 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

seems to promise to the one, the extreme 
Orient affords the other. As Roman Cathol- 
icism now looks to America f > r its strength, 
so Buddhism to-day finds its worshippers 
chiefly in China and Japan. 

But though the Japanese may be said to 
be all Buddhists, Buddhist is by no means 
all that they are. At the time of their 
adoption of the great Indian faith, the Ja- 
panese were already in possession of a sys- 
tem of superstition which has held its own 
to this day. In fact, as the state religion 
of the land, it has just experienced a revi- 
val, a regalvanizing of its old-time energy, 
at the hands of some of the native archaeol- 
ogists. Its sacred mirror, held up to Na- 
ture, has been burnished anew. Formerly 
this body of belief was the national faith, 
the Mikado, the direct descendant of the 
early gods, being its head on earth. His 
reinstatement to temporal power formed a 
very fitting first step toward reinvesting the 
cult with its former prestige ; a curious in- 
stance, indeed, of a religious revival due to 
archaeological, not to religious zeal. 

This cult is the mythological inheritance 
of the whole eastern seaboard of Asia, from 
Siam to Kamtchatka. In Japan it is called 




SHINTO PILGRIMS 



RELIGION. 167 

Shintoism. The word "Shinto" means lit- 
erally " the way of the gods," and the 
letter of its name is a true exponent of the 
spirit of the belief. For its scriptures are 
rather an itinerary of the gods' lives than 
a guide to that road by which man himself 
may attain to immortality. Thus with a 
certain fitness pilgrimages are its most no- 
ticeable rites. One cannot journey any- 
where in the heart of Japan without meet- 
ing multitudes of these pilgrims, with their 
neat white leggings and their mushroom- 
like hats, nor rest at night at any inn that 
is not hung with countless little banners 
of the pilgrim associations, of which they 
all are members. Being a pilgrim there 
is equivalent to being a tourist here, only 
that to the excitement of doing the coun- 
try is added a sustaining sense of the mer- 
itoriousness of the deed. Oftener than 
not the objective point of the devout is 
the summit of some noted mountain. For 
peaks are peculiarly sacred spots in the 
Shinto faith. The fact is perhaps an ex- 
pression of man's instinctive desire to rise, 
as if the bodily act in some wise betokened 
the mental action. The shrine in so ex- 
alted a position is of the simplest : a rude 



168 THE BOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

hut, with or without the only distinctive 
emblems of the cult, a mirror typical of the 
god and the pendent gohei^ or zigzag strips 
of paper, permanent votive offerings of 
man. As for the belief itself, it is but the 
deification of those natural elements which 
aboriginal man instinctively wonders at or 
fears, the sun, the moon, the thunder, the 
lightning, and the wind ; all, in short, that 
he sees, hears, and feels, yet cannot com- 
prehend. He clothes his terrors with forms 
which resemble the human, because he can 
conceive of nothing else that could cause 
the unexpected. But the awful shapes he 
conjures up have naught in common with 
himself. They are far too fearful to be 
followed. Their way is the " highway of 
the gods," but no Jacob's ladder for way- 
ward man. 

In this externality to the human lies the 
reason that Shintoism and Buddhism can 
agree so well, and can both join with Con- 
fucianism in helping to form that happy 
family of faith which is so singular a fea- 
ture of Far Eastern religious capability. It 
is not simply that the two contrive to live 
peaceably together ; they are actually both 
of them implicitly believed by the same 



RELIGION. 169 

individual. Millions of Japanese are good 
Buddhists and good Shintoists at the same 
time. That such a combination should be 
possible is due to the essential difference in 
the character of the two beliefs. The one 
is extrinsic, the other intrinsic, in its rela- 
tions to the human soul. Shintoism tells 
man but little about himself and his here- 
after ; Buddhism, little but about himself 
and what he may become. In examining 
Far Eastern religion, therefore, for person- 
ality, or the reverse, we may dismiss Shin- 
toism as having no particular bearing upon 
the subject. The only effect it has is indi- 
rect in furthering the natural propensity of 
these people to an adoration of nature. 

In Korea and in China, again, Confucian- 
ism is the great moral law, as by reflection 
it is to a certain extent in Japan. But that 
in its turn may be omitted in the present 
argument, inasmuch as Confucius taught 
confessedly and designedly only a system 
of morals, and religiously abstained from 
pronouncing any opinion whatever upon 
the character or the career of the human 
soul. 

Taouism, the third great religion of 
China, resembles Shintoism to this extent, 



170 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

that it is a body of superstition, and not a 
form of philosophy. It undertakes to pro- 
vide nostrums for spiritual ills, but is dumb 
as to the constitution of the soul for which 
it professes to prescribe. Its pills are to be 
swallowed unquestioningly by the patient, 
and are warranted to cure ; and owing to 
the two great human frailties, fear and cre- 
dulity, its practice is very large. Possess- 
ing, however, no philosophic diploma, it is 
without the pale of the present discussion. 

The demon-worship of Korea is a mild 
form of the same thing with the hierarchy 
left out, every man there being his own spir- 
itual adviser. An ordinary Korean is born 
with an innate belief in malevolent spirits, 
whom he accordingly propitiates from time 
to time. One of nobler birth propitiates 
only the spirits of his own ancestors. 

We come, then, by a process of elimina- 
tion to a consideration of Buddhism, the 
great philosophic faith of the whole Far 
East. 

Not uncommonly in the courtyard of a 
Japanese temple, in the solemn half-light 
of the sombre firs, there stands a large 
stone basin, cut from a single block, and 
filled to the brim with water. The trees, 




A STONE LANTERN 



RELIGION. 171 

the basin, and a few stone lanterns so 
called from their form, and not their func- 
tion, for they have votive pebbles where we 
should look for wicks are the sole occu- 
pants of the place. Sheltered from the 
wind, withdrawn from sound, and only 
piously approached by man, this antecham- 
ber of the god seems the very abode of 
silence and rest. It might be Nirvana 
itself, human entrance to an immortality 
like the god's within, so peaceful, so perva- 
sive is its calm ; and in its midst is the 
moss-covered monolith, holding in its em- 
brace the little imprisoned pool of water. 
So still is the spot and so clear the liquid 
that you know the one only as the reflec- 
tion of the other. Mirrored in its glassy 
surface appears everything around it. As 
you peer in, far down you see a tiny bit 
of sky, as deep as the blue is high above, 
across which slowly sail the passing clouds ; 
then nearer stand the trees, arching over- 
head, as if bending to catch glimpses of 
themselves in that other world below ; and 
then, nearer yet yourself. 

Emblem of the spirit of man is this little 
pool to Far Oriental eyes. Subtile as the 
soul is the incomprehensible water ; so re- 



172 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

sponsive to light that it remains itself in- 
visible ; so clear that it seems illusion ! 
Though portrayer so perfect of forms about 
it, all we know of the thing itself is that it 
is. Through none of the five senses do we 
perceive it. Neither sight, nor hearing, nor 
taste, nor smell, nor touch can tell us it ex- 
ists ; we feel it to be by the muscular sense 
alone, that blind and dumb analogue for 
the body of what consciousness is for the 
soul. Only when disturbed, troubled, does 
the water itself become visible, and then it 
is but the surface that we see. So to the 
Far Oriental this still little lake typifies the 
soul, the eventual purification of his own ; 
a something lost in reflection, self-effaced, 
only the alter ego of the outer world. 

For contemplation, not action, is the Far 
Oriental's ideal of life. The repose of self- 
adjustment like that to which our whole 
solar system is slowly tending as its death, 
this to him appears, though from no 
scientific deduction, the end of all exist- 
ence. So he sits and ponders, abstractly, 
vaguely, upon everything in general, syn- 
onym, alas, to man's finite mind, for nothing 
in particular, till even the sense of self 
seems to vanish, and through the mis dike 



RELIGION. 173 

portal of unconsciousness he floats out into 
the vast indistinguishable sameness of Nir- 
vana's sea. 

At first sight Buddhism is much more 
like Christianity than those of us who stay 
at home and speculate upon it commonly 
appreciate. As a system of philosophy it 
sounds exceedingly foreign, but it looks un- 
expectedly familiar as a faith. Indeed, the 
one religion might well pass for the coun- 
terfeit presentment of the other. The re- 
semblance so struck the early Catholic mis- 
sionaries that they felt obliged to explain 
the remarkable similarity between the two. 
With them ingenuous surprise instantly be- 
got ingenious sophistry. Externally, the 
likeness was so exact that at first they 
could not bring themselves to believe that 
the Buddhist ceremonials had not been 
filched bodily from the practices of the true 
faith. Finding, however, that no known 
human agency had acted in the matter, 
they bethought them of introducing, to 
account for things, a deus ex machina 
in the shape of the devil. They were so 
pleased with this solution of the difficulty 
that they imparted it at once with much 
pride to the natives. You have indeed got, 



174 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

they graciously if somewhat gratuitously 
informed them, the outward semblance of 
the true faith, but you are in fact the mis- 
erable victims of an impious fraud. Satan 
has stolen the insignia of divinity, and is 
now masquerading before you as the deity ; 
your god is really our devil, a recognition 
of antipodal inversion truly worthy the 
Jesuitical mind ! 

Perhaps it is not matter for great sur- 
prise that they converted but few of their 
hearers. The suggestion was hardly so dip- 
lomatic as might have been expected from 
so generally astute a body ; for it could not 
make much difference what the all-presid- 
ing deity was called, if his actions were the 
same, since his motives were beyond human 
observation. Besides, the bare idea of a 
foreign bogus was not very terrifying. The 
Chinese possessed too many familiar devils 
of their own. But there was another and 
a much deeper reason, which we shall come 
to later, why Christianity made but .little 
headway in the Far East. 

But it is by no means in externals only 
that the two religions are alike. If the 
first glance at them awakens that peculiar 
sensation which most of us have felt at 



RELIGION. 175 

some time or other, a sense of having seen 
all this before, further scrutiny reveals a 
deeper agreement than merely in appear- 
ances. 

In passing from the surface into the sub- 
stance, it may be mentioned incidentally 
that the codes of morality of the two are 
about on a level. I say incidentally, for so 
far as its practice, certainly, is concerned, 
if not its preaching, morality has no more 
intimate connection with religion than it 
has with art or politics. If we doubt this, 
we have but to examine the facts. Are the 
most religious peoples the most moral ? It 
needs no prolonged investigation to con- 
vince us that they are not. If proof of the 
want of a bond were required, the matter 
of truth-telling might be adduced in point. 
As this is a subject upon which a slight 
misconception exists in the minds of some 
evangelically persuaded persons, and be- 
cause, what is more generally relevant, the 
presence of this quality, honesty in word 
and deed, has more than almost any other 
one characteristic helped to put us in the 
van of the world's advance to-day, it may 
not unfittingly be cited here. 

The argument in the case may be put 



176 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

thus. Have specially religious races been 
proportionally truth-telling ones ? If not, 
has there been any other cause at work in 
the development of mankind tending to 
increase veracity? The answer to the first 
question has all the simplicity of a plain 
negative. No such pleasing concomitance 
of characteristics is observable to-day, or 
has been presented in the past. Permit- 
ting, however, the dead past to bury its 
shortcomings in oblivion, let us look at the 
world as we find it. We observe, then, 
that the religious spirit is quite as strong 
in Asia as it is in Europe ; if anything, that 
at the present time it is rather stronger. 
The average Brahman, Mahometan, or Bud- 
dhist is quite as devout as the ordinary 
Roman Catholic or Presbyterian. If he is 
somewhat less given to propagandism, he is 
not a whit less regardful of his own salva- 
tion. Yet throughout the Orient truth is 
a thing unknown, lies of courtesy being de 
rigueur and lies of convenience de raison ; 
while with us, fortunately, mendacity is 
generally discredited. But we need not 
travel so far for proof. The same is evident 
in less antipodal relations. Have the least 
religious nations of Europe been any less 



RELIGION. 177 

truthful than the most bigoted ? Was fa- 
natic Spain remarkable for veracity ? Was 
Loyola a gentleman whose assertions carried 
conviction other than to the stake ? Were 
the eminently mundane burghers whom he 
persecuted noted for a pious superiority to 
fact ? Or, to narrow the field still further, 
and scan the circle of one's own acquaint- 
ance, are the most believing individuals 
among them worthy of the most belief ? 
Assuredly not. 

We come, then, to the second point. 
Has there been any influence at work to 
differentiate us in this respect from Far 
Orientals ? There has. Two separate 
causes, in fact, have conduced to the same 
result. The one is the development of 
physical science ; the other, the extension 
of trade. The sole object of science being 
to discover truth, truth-telling is a necessity 
of its existence. Professionally, scientists 
are obliged to be truthful. Aliter of a 
Jesuit. 

So long as science was of the closet, its 
influence upon mankind generally was in- 
direct and slight ; but so soon as it pro- 
ceeded to stalk into the street and earn its 
own living, its veracious character began to 



178 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

tell. When out of its theories sprang in. 
ventions and discoveries that revolution- 
ized every-day affairs and changed the very 
face of things, society insensibly caught its 
spirit. Man awoke to the inestimable value 
of exactness. From scientists proper, the 
spirit filtered down through every stratum 
of education, till to-day the average man is 
born exact to a degree which his forefathers 
never dreamed of becoming. To-day, as a 
rule, the more intelligent the individual, the 
more truthful he is, because the more in- 
nately exact in thought, and thence in word 
and action. With us, to lie is a sign of a 
want of cleverness, not of an excess of it. 

The second cause, the extension of trade, 
has inculcated the same regard for veracity 
through the pocket. For with the increase 
of business transactions in both time and 
space, the telling of the truth has become 
a financial necessity. Without it, trade 
would come to a standstill at once. Our 
whole mercantile system, a modern piece 
of mechanism unknown to the East till we 
imported it thither, turns on an implicit 
belief in the word of one's neighbor. Our 
legal safeguards would snap like red tape 
were the great bond of mutual trust once 



RELIGION. 179 

broken. Western civilization has to be 
truthful, or perish. 

And now for the spirits of the two be- 
liefs. 

The soul of any religion realizes in one 
respect the Brahman idea of the individual 
soul of man, namely, that it exists much 
after the manner of an onion, in many con- 
centric envelopes. Man, they tell us, is 
composed not of a single body simply, but 
of several layers of body, each shell as it 
were respectively inclosing another. The 
outermost is the merely material body, of 
which we are so directly cognizant. This 
encases a second, more spiritual, but yet 
not wholly free from earthly affinities. 
This contains another, still more refined ; 
till finally, inside of all is that immaterial 
something which they conceive to consti- 
tute the soul. This eventual residuum ex- 
emplifies the Franciscan notion of pure sub- 
stance, for it is a thing delightfully devoid 
of any attributes whatever. 

We may, perhaps, not be aware of the 
existence of such an elaborate set of encas- 
ings to our own heart of hearts, nor of a 
something so very indefinite within, but the 
most casual glance at any religion will re- 



180 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

veal its truth as regards the soul of a belief, 
We recognize the fact outwardly in the 
buildings erected to celebrate its worship. 
Not among the Jews alone was the holy of 
holies kept veiled, to temper the divine ra- 
diance to man's benighted understanding. 
Nor is the chancel-rail of Christianity the 
sole survivor of the more exclusive barriers 
of olden times, even in the Western world. 
In the Far East, where difficulty of access 
is deemed indispensable to d'gnity, the ma- 
tedal approaches are still manifold and im- 
posing. Court within court, building after 
building, isolate the shrine itself from the 
profane familiarity of the passer-by. But 
though the material encasings vary in num- 
ber and in exclusiveness, according to the 
temperament of the particular race con- 
cerned, the mental envelopes exist, and 
must exist, in both hemispheres alike, so 
long as society resembles the crust of the 
earth on which it dwells, a crust com- 
posed of strata that grow denser as one 
descends. What is clear to those on top 
seems obscure to those below; what are 
weighty arguments to the second have no 
force at all upon the first. There must ne- 
cessarily be grades of elevation in individual 



RELIGION. 181 

beliefs, suited to the needs and cravings 
of each individual soul. A creed that fills 
the shallow with satisfaction leaves but an 
aching void in the deep. It is not of the 
slightest consequence how the belief starts ; 
differentiated it is bound to become. The 
higher minds alone can rest content with 
abstract imaginings ; the lower must have 
concrete realities on which to pin their 
faith. With them, inevitably, ideals de- 
generate into idols. In all religions this 
unavoidable debasement has taken place. 
The Roman Catholic who prays to a 
wooden image of Christ is not one whit 
less idolatrous than the Buddhist who wor- 
ships a bronze statue of Amida Butzu. 
All that the common people are capable 
of seeing is the soul-envelope, for the soul 
itself they are unable to appreciate. Spir- 
itually they are undiscerning, because im- 
aginatively they are blind. 

Now the grosser soul-envelopes of the 
two great European and Asiatic faiths, 
though differing in detail, are in general 
parallel in structure. Each boasts its full 
complement of saints, whose congruent cat- 
alogues are equally wearisome in length. 
Each tells its circle of beads to help it 



182 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

keep count of similarly endless prayers. 
For in both, in the popular estimation, 
quantity is more effective to salvation than 
quality. In both the believer practically 
pictures his heaven for himself, while in 
each his hell, with a vividness that does 
like credit to its religious imagination, is 
painted for him by those of the cult who 
are themselves confident of escaping it. 
Into the lap of each mother church the 
pious believer drops his. little votive offer- 
ing with the same affectionate zeal, and in 
Asia, as in Europe, the mites of the many 
make the might of the mass. 

But behind all this is the religion of the 
few, of those to whom sensuous forms can- 
not suffice to represent super-sensuous crav- 
ings ; whose god is something more than 
an anthropomorphic creation ; to whom 
worship means not the cramping of the 
body, but the expansion of the soul. 

The rays of the truth, like the rays of 
the sun, which universally seems to have 
been man's first adoration, have two prop- 
erties equally inherent in their essence, 
warmth and light. And as for the life of 
all things on this globe both attributes of 
sunshine are necessary, so to the develop- 



RELIGION. 183 

merit of that something which constitutes 
the ego both qualities of the truth are vital. 
We sometimes speak of character as if it 
were a thing wholly apart from mind ; but, 
in fact, the two things are so interwoven 
that to perceive the right course is the 
strongest possible of incentives to pursue it. 
In the end the two are one. Now, while 
clearness of head is all-important, kindness 
of heart is none the less so. The first, per- 
haps, is more needed in our communings 
with ourselves, the second in our commerce 
with others. For, dark and dense bodies 
that we are, we can radiate affection much 
more effectively than we can reflect views. 

That Christianity is a religion of love 
needs no mention ; that Buddhism is 
equally such is perhaps not so generally 
appreciated. But just as the gospel of the 
disciple who loved and was loved the most 
begins its story by telling us of the Light 
that came into the world, so none the less 
surely could the Light of Asia but be also 
its warmth. Half of the teachings of Bud- 
dhism are spent in inculcating charity. Not 
only to men is man enjoined to show kind- 
liness, but to all other animals as well. 
The people practise what their scriptures 



184 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

preach. The effect indirectly on the con- 
dition of the brutes is almost as marked as 
its more direct effect on the character of 
mankind. In heart, at least, Buddhism 
and Christianity are very close. 

But here the two paths to a something 
beyond an earthly life diverge. Up to this 
point the two religions are alike, but from 
this point on they are so utterly unlike that 
the very similarity of all that went before 
only suffices to make of the second the 
weird, life - counterfeiting shadow of the 
first. As in a silhouette, externally the 
contours are all there, but within is one 
vast blank. In relation to one's neighbor 
the two beliefs are kin, but as regards one's 
self, as far apart as the West is from the 
East. For here, at this idea of self, we are 
suddenly aware of standing on the brink 
of a fathomless abyss, gazing giddily down 
into that great gulf which divides Bud- 
dhism from Christianity. We cannot see 
the bottom. It is a separation more pro- 
found than death ; it seems to necessitate 
annihilation. To cross it we must bury in 
its depths all we know as ourselves. 

Christianity is a personal religion ; Bud- 
dhism, an impersonal one. In this funda- 



RELIGION. 185 

mental difference lies the world- wide oppo. 
sition of the two beliefs. Christianity tells 
us to purify ourselves that we may enjoy 
countless scons of that bettered self here- 
after ; Buddhism would have us purify our- 
selves that we may lose all sense of self for 
evermore. 

For all that it preaches the essential vile- 
ness of the natural man, Christianity is a 
gospel of optimism. While it affirms that 
at present you are bad, it also affirms that 
this depravity is no intrinsic part of your- 
self. It unquestioningly asserts that it is 
something foreign to your true being. It 
even believes that in a more or less spiritual 
manner your very body will survive. It 
essentially clings to the ego. What it incul- 
cates is really present endeavor sanctioned 
by the prospect of future bliss. It tacitly 
takes for granted the desirability of per- 
sonal existence, and promises the certainty 
of personal immortality, a terror to evil- 
doers, and a sustaining sense of coming un- 
alloyed happiness to the good. Through 
and through its teachings runs the feeling 
of the fullness of life, that desire which 
will not die, that wish of the soul which 
beats its wings against its earthly casement 



186 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

in its longing for expansion beyond the 
narrow confines of threescore years and 
ten. 

Buddhism, on the contrary, is the cri du 
cceur of pessimism. This life, it says, is 
but a chain of sorrows. To multiply days 
is only to multiply evil. These desires that 
urge us on are really cause of all our woe. 
We think they are ourselves. We are mis- 
taken. They are all illusion, and we are 
victims of a mirage. This personality, this 
sense of self, is a cruel deception and a 
snare. Realize once the true soul behind 
it, devoid of attributes, therefore without 
this capacity for suffering, an indivisible 
part of the great impersonal soul of nature : 
then, and then only, will you have found 
happiness in the blissful quiescence of Nir- 
vana. 

With a certain poetic fitness, misery and 
impersonality were both present in the oc- 
casion that gave the belief birth. Many 
have turned to the consolations of religion 
by reason of their own wretchedness ; 
Gautama sought its help touched by the 
woes of others whom, in his own happy 
life journey, he chanced one day to come 
across. Shocked by the sight of human 



RELIGION. 187 

disease, old age, and death, sad facts to 
which hitherto he had been sedulously kept 
a stranger, he renounced the world that he 
might find for it an escape from its ills. 
But bliss, as he conceived it, lay not in 
wanting to be something he was not, but in 
actual want of being. His quest for man- 
kind was immunity from suffering, not the 
active enjoyment of life. In this negative 
way of looking at happiness, he acted in 
strict conformity with the spirit of his 
world. For the doctrine of pessimism had 
already been preached. It underlay the 
whole Brahman philosophy, and everybody 
believed it implicitly. Already the East 
looked at this life as an evil, and had af- 
firmed for the individual spirit extinction 
to be happier than existence. The wish 
for an end to the ego, the hope to be event- 
ually nothing, Gautama accepted for a tru- 
ism as undeniably as the Brahmans did. 
What he pronounced false was the Brah- 
man prospectus of the way to reach this 
desirable impersonal state. Their road, he 
said, could not possibly land the traveller 
where it professed, since it began wrong, 
and ended nowhere. The way, he asserted, 
is within a man. He has but to realize the 



188 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

truth, and from that moment he will see 
his goal and the road that leads there. 
There is no panacea for human ills, of ex- 
ternal application. The Brahman homoe- 
opathic treatment of sin is folly. The 
slaughtering of men and bulls cannot pos- 
sil>ly bring life to the soul. To mortify the 
body for the sins of the flesh is palpably 
futile, for in desire alone lies all the ill. 
Quench the desire, and the deeds will die 
of inanition. Man himself is sole cause of 
his own misery. Get rid, then, said the 
Buddha, of these passions, these strivings 
for the sake of self, that hold the true soul 
a prisoner. They have to do with things 
which we know are transitory : how can 
they be immortal themselves? We recog- 
nize them as subject to our will; they are, 
then, not the I. 

As a man, he taught, becomes conscious 
that he himself is something distinct from 
his body, so, if he reflect and ponder, he 
will come to see that in like mar.ner his 
appetites, ambitions, hopes, are really ex- 
trinsic to the spirit proper. Neither heart 
nor head is truly the man, for he is con- 
scious of something that stands behind 
both. Behind desire, behind even the will. 



RELIGION. 189 

lies the soul, the same for all men, one 
with the soul of the universe. When he 
has once realized this eternal truth, the 
man has entered Nirvana. For Nirvana is 
not an absorption of the individual soul 
into the soul of all things, since the one 
has always been a part of the other. Still 
less is it utter annihilation. It is simply 
the recognition of the eternal oneness of 
the two, back through an everlasting past 
on through an everlasting future. 

Such is the belief which the Japanese 
adopted, and which they profess to day. 
Such to them is to be the dawn of death's 
to-morrow; a blessed impersonal immortal- 
ity, in which all sense of self, illusion that 
it is, shall itself have ceased to be ; a long 
dreamless sleep, a beatified rest, which no 
awakening shall ever disturb. 

Among such a people personal Christian- 
ity converts but few. They accept our 
material civilization, but they reject our 
creeds. To preach a prolongation of life 
appears to them like preaching an exten- 
sion of sorrow. At most, Christianity suc- 
ceeds only in making them doubters of what 
lies beyond this life. But though profess- 
ing agnosticism while they live, they turn, 



190 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

when the shadows of death's night come 
on, to the bosom of that faith which teaches 
that, whatever may have been one's earthly 
share of happiness, " 't is something better 
not to be." 

Strange it seems at first that those who 
have looked so long to the rising sun for 
inspiration should be they who live only in 
a sort of lethargy of life, while those who 
for so many centuries have turned their 
faces steadily to the fading glory of the 
sunset should be the ones who have em- 
bodied the spirit of progress of the world. 
Perhaps the light, by its very rising, checks 
the desire to pursue ; in its setting it lures 
one on to follow. 

Though this religion of impersonality is 
not their child, it is their choice. They 
embraced it with the rest that India taught 
them, centuries ago. But though just as 
eager to learn of us now as of India then, 
Christianity fails to commend itself. This 
is not due to the fact that the Buddhist 
missionaries came by invitation, and ours 
do not. Nor is it due to any want of per- 
sonal character in these latter, but simply 
to an excess of it in their doctrines. 

For to-day the Far East is even more in> 




A JAPANESE GOD 



RELIGION. 191 

personal in its religion than are those from 
whom that religion originally came. India 
has returned again to its worship of Brah- 
ma, which, though impersonal enough, is 
less so than is the gospel of Gautama. For 
it is passively instead of actively imper- 
sonal. 

Buddhism bears to Brahmanism some- 
thing like the relation that Protestantism 
does to Roman Catholicism. Both bishops 
and Brahmans undertake to save all who 
shall blindly commit themselves to profes- 
sional guidance, while Buddhists and Prot- 
estants alike believe that a man's salvation 
must be brought about by the action of the 
man himself. The result is, that in the 
matter of individuality the two reformed 
beliefs are further apart than those against 
which they severally protested. For by 
the change the personal became more per- 
sonal, and the impersonal more impersonal 
than before. The Protestant, from having 
tamely allowed himself to be led, began 
to take a lively interest in his own self- 
improvement; while the Buddhist, from a 
former apathetic acquiescence in the doc- 
trine of the universally illusive, set to work 
energetically towards self-extinction. Curi- 



192 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ous labor for a mind, that of devoting all 
its strength to the thinking itself out of 
existence ! Not content with being born 
impersonal, a Far Oriental is constantly 
striving to make himself more so. 

We have seen, then, how in trying to 
understand these peoples we are brought 
face to face with impersonality in each of 
those three expressions of the, human soul, 
speech, thought, yearning. We have looked 
at them first from a social standpoint. We 
have seen how singularly little regnrd is 
paid the individual from his birth to his 
death. How he lives his life long thr slave 
of patriarchal customs of so puerile a ten- 
dency as to be practically impossible to a 
people really grown up. How he practises 
a wholesale system of adoption sufficient of 
itself to destroy any surviving regard for 
the ego his other relations might hare left- 
How in his daily life he gives the mini- 
mum of thought to the bettering himself in 
any worldly sense, and the maximum of 
polite consideration to his neighbor. How, 
in short, he acts toward himself as much a? 
possible as if he were another, and to that 
other as if he were himself. 

Then, not content with standing stranger 



RELIGION. 193 

like upon the threshold, we have sought 
to see the soul of their civilization in its 
intrinsic manifestations. We have pushed 
our inquiry, as it were, one step nearer its 
home. And the same trait that was appar- 
ent sociologically has been exposed in this 
our antipodal phase of psychical research. 
We have seen how impersonal is his lan- 
guage, the principal medium of communica- 
tion between one soul and another ; how 
impersonal are the communings of his soul 
with itself. How the man turns to nature 
instead of to his fellowman in silent sym- 
pathy. And how, when he speculates upon 
his coming castles in the air, his most rose- 
ate desire is to be but an indistinguishable 
particle of the sunset clouds and vanish in- 
visible as they into the starry stillness of 
all-embracing space. 

Now what does this strange impersonal- 
ity betoken? Why are these peoples so 
different from us in this most fundamental 
of considerations to any people, the consid- 
eration of themselves? The answer leads 
to some interesting conclusions. 



vm. 

IMAGINATION. 

IP, as is the case with the moon, the 
earth, as she travelled round her orbit 
turned always the same face inward, we 
might expect to find, between the thoughts 
of that hemisphere which looked continu- 
ally to the sun, and those of the other 
peering eternally out at the stars, some 
such difference as actually exists between 
ourselves and our longitudinal antipodes. 
For our conception of the cosmos is of a 
sunlit world throbbing with life, while their 
Nirvana finds not unfit expression in the 
still, cold, fathomless awe of the midnight 
sky. That we cannot thus directly account 
for the difference in local coloring serves 
but to make that difference of more human 
interest. The dissimilarity between the 
Western and the Far Eastern attitude of 
mind has in it something beyond the effect 
of environment. For it points to the im- 
portance of the part which the principle 



IMAGINATION. 195 

of individuality plays in the great drama 
daily enacting before our eyes, and which 
we know as evolution. It shows, as I shall 
hope to prove, that individuality bears the 
same relation to the development of mind 
that the differentiation of species does to 
the evolution of organic life : that the degree 
of individualization of a people is the self- 
recorded measure of its place in the great 
march of mind. 

All life, whether organic or inorganic, 
consists, as we know, in a change from a 
state of simple homogeneity to one of com- 
plex heterogeneity. The process is appar- 
ently the same in a nebula or a brachiopod, 
although much more intricate in the lat- 
ter. The immediate force which works 
this change, the life principle of things, is, 
in the case of organic beings, a subtle some- 
thing which we call spontaneous variation. 
What this mysterious impulse may be is 
beyond our present powers of recognition. 
As yet, the ultimates of all things lie hid- 
den in the womb of the vast unknown. 
But just as in the case of a man we can 
tell what organs are vital, though we are 
ignorant what the vital spark may be, so 
in our great cosmical laws we can say in 



196 THE SOUL Of THE FAR EAST. 

what their power resides, though we know 
not really what they are. Whether mind 
be but a sublimated form of matter, or, what 
amounts to the same thing, matter a menial 
kind of mind, or whether, which seems less 
likely, it be a something incomparable with 
substance, of one thing we are sure, the 
same laws of heredity govern both. In 
each a like chain of continuity leads from 
the present to the dim past, a connecting 
clue which we can follow backward in im- 
agination. Now what spontaneous varia- 
tion is to the material organism, imagina- 
tion, apparently, is to the mental one. Just 
as spontaneous variation is constantly push- 
ing the animal or the plant to push out, as 
a vine its tendrils, in all directions, while 
natural conditions are as constantly ex- 
ercising over it a sort of unconscious prun- 
ing power, so imagination is ever at work 
urging man's mind out and on, while the 
sentiment of the community, commonly 
called common sense, which simply means 
the point already reached by the average, 
is as steadily tending to keep it at its own 
]evel. The environment helps, in the one 
case as in the other, to the shaping of the 
development. Purely physical in the first, 



IMAGINATION. 197 

it is both physical and psychical in the 
second, the two reacting on each other. 
But in either case it is only a constraining 
condition, not the divine impulse itself. 
Precisely, then, as in the organism, this sub- 
tle spirit checked in one direction finds a 
way to advance in another, and produces in 
consequence among an originally similar set 
of bodies a gradual separation into species 
which grow wider with time, so in brain 
evolution a like force for like reasons tends 
inevitably to an ever-increasing individual- 
ization. 

Now what evidence have we that this 
analogy holds ? Let us look at the facts, 
first as they present themselves subjec- 
tively. 

The instinct of self-preservation, that 
guardian angel so persistent to appear 
when needed, owes its summons to an- 
other instinct no less strong, which we 
may call the instinct of individuality; for 
with the same innate tenacity with which 
we severally cling to life do we hold to the 
idea of our own identity. It is not for 
the philosophic desire of preserving a very 
small fraction of humanity at large that we 
take such pains to avoid destruction ; it is 



198 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

that we insensibly regard death as threat- 
ening to the continuance of the ego, in spite 
of the theories of a future life which we 
have so elaborately developed. Indeed, the 
psychical shrinking is really the quintes- 
sence of the physical fear. We cleave to 
the abstract idea closer even than to its 
concrete embodiment. Sooner would we 
forego this earthly existence than sur- 
render that something we know as self. 
For sufficient cause we can imagine court- 
ing death ; we cannot conceive of so much 
as exchanging our individuality for an- 
other's, still less of abandoning it alto- 
gether ; for gradually a man, as he grows 
older, comes to regard his body as, after 
all, separable from himself. It is the soul's 
covering, rendered indispensable by the cli- 
matic conditions of our present existence, 
one without which we could no longer con- 
tinue to live here. To forego it does not 
necessarily negative, so far as we yet know, 
the possibility of living elsewhere. Some 
more congenial tropic may be the wander- 
ing spirit's fate. But to part with the sense 
of self seems to be like taking an eternal 
farewell of the soul. The Western mind 
shrinks before the bare idea of such a 
thought. 




THE JUDAS TREE 



IMAGINATION. 199 

The clinging to one's own identity, then, 
is now an instinct, whatever it may origi- 
nally have been. It is a something we in- 
herited from our ancestors and which we 
shall transmit more or less modified to our 
descendants. How far back this conscious- 
ness has been felt passes the possibilities of 
history to determine, since the recording of 
it necessarily followed the fact. All we 
know is that its mention is coeval with 
chronicle, and its origin lost in allegory. 
The Bible, one of the oldest written rec- 
ords in the world, begins with a bit of 
mythology of a very significant kind. 
When the Jews undertook to trace back 
their family tree to an idyllic garden of 
Eden, they mentioned as growing there be- 
side the tree of life, another tree called the 
tree of knowledge. Of what character this 
knowledge was is inferable from the sud- 
den self -consciousness that followed the 
partaking of it. So that if we please we 
may attribute directly to Eve's indiscre- 
tion the many evils of our morbid self-con- 
sciousness of the present day. But with- 
out indulging in unchivalrous reflections 
we may draw certain morals from it of 
both immediate and ultimate applicability. 



200 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

To begin with, it is a most salutary warn- 
ing to the introspective, and in the second 
place it is a striking instance of a myth 
which is not a sun myth ; for it is essen- 
tially of human regard, an attempt on 
man's part to explain that most peculiar 
attribute of his constitution, the all-possess- 
ing sense of self. It looks certainly as if 
he was not over-proud of his person that 
he should have deemed its recognition occa- 
sion for the primal curse, and among early 
races the person is for a good deal of the 
personality. What he lamented was not 
life but the unavoidable exertion necessary 
to getting his daily bread, for the question 
whether life were worth while was as futile 
then as now, and as inconceivable really as 
4-dimensional space. 

We are then conscious of individuality 
as a force within ourselves. But our knowl- 
edge by no means ends there ; for we are 
aware of it in the case of others as well. 

About certain people there exists a sub- 
tle something which leaves its impress in- 
delibly upon the consciousness of all who 
come in contact with them. This some- 
thing is a power, but a power of so inde- 
finable a description that we beg definition 



IMAGINATION. 201 

by calling it simply the personality of the 
man. It is not a matter of subsequent 
reasoning, but of direct perception. We 
feel it. Sometimes it charms us; some- 
times it repels. But we can no more be 
oblivious to it than we can to the temper- 
ature of the air. Its possessor has but to 
enter the room, and insensibly we are con- 
scious of a presence. It is as if we had 
suddenly been placed in the field of a mag- 
netic force. 

On the other hand there are people who 
produce no effect upon us whatever. They 
come and go with a like indifference. They 
are as unimportant psychically as if they 
were any other portion of the furniture. 
They never stir us. We might live with 
them for fifty years and be hardly able 
to tell, for any influence upon ourselves, 
whether they existed or not. They remind 
us of that neutral drab which certain re- 
ligious sects assume to show their own ir- 
relevancy to the world. They are often 
most estimable folk, but they are no more 
capable of inspiring a strong emotion than 
the other kind are incapable of doing so. 
And we say the difference is due to the 
personality or want of personality of the 



202 TUP: SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

roan. Now, in what does this so-called per- 
sonality consist? Not in bodily presence 
simply, for men quite destitute of it pos- 
sess the force in question ; not in character 
only, for we often disapprove of a character 
whose attraction we are powerless to resist ; 
not in intellect alone, for men more rational 
fail of stirring us as these unconsciously do. 
In what, then ? In life itself ; not that 
modicum of it, indeed, which suffices sim- 
ply to keep the machine moving, but in 
the life principle, the power which causes 
psychical change ; which makes the indi- 
vidual something distinct from all other in- 
dividuals, a being capable of proving suffi- 
cient, if need be, unto himself ; which shows 
itself, in short, as individuality. This is 
not a mere restatement of the case, for indi- 
viduality is an objective fact capable of be- 
ing treated by physical science. And as we 
know much more at present about physical 
facts than we do of psychological problems, 
we may be able to arrive the sooner at 
solution. 

Individuality, personality, and the sense 
of self are only three different aspects of 
one and the same thing. They are so many 
various views of the soul according as we 



IMAGINATION. 203 

regard it from an intrinsic, an altruistic, or 
an egoistic standpoint. For by individual- 
ity is not meant simply the isolation in a 
corporeal casing of a small portion of the 
universal soul of mankind. So far as mind 
goes, this would not be individuality at all, 
but the reverse. By individuality we mean 
that bundle of ideas, thoughts, and day- 
dreams which constitute our separate iden- 
tity, and by virtue of which we feel each 
one of us at home within himself. Now 
man in his mind-development is bound to 
become more and more distinct from his 
neighbor. We can hardly conceive a pro- 
gress so uniform as not to necessitate this. 
It would be contrary to all we know of 
natural law, besides contradicting daily ex- 
perience. For each successive generation 
bears unmistakable testimony to the fact. 
Children of the same parents are never ex- 
actly like either their parents or one an- 
other, and they often differ amazingly from 
both. In such instances they revert to 
type, as we say; but inasmuch as the race 
is steadily advancing in development, such 
reversion must resemble that of an estate 
which has been greatly improved since its 
previous possession. The appearance of 



204 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

the quality is really the sprouting of a seed 
whose original germ was in some sense 
coeval with the beginning of things. This 
mind-seed takes root in some cases and not 
in others, according to the soil it finds. 
And as certain traits develop and others do 
not, one man turns out very differently 
from his neighbor. Such inevitable dis- 
tinction implies furthermore that the man 
shall be sensible of it. Consciousness is 
the necessary attribute of mental action. 
Not only is it the sole way we have of 
knowing mind ; without it there would be 
no mind to know. Not to be conscious of 
one's self is, mentally speaking, not to be. 
This complex entity, this little cosmos of a 
world, the " I," has for its very law of exist- 
ence self-consciousness, while personality is 
the effect it produces upon the conscious- 
ness of others. 

But we may push our inquiry a step 
further, and find in imagination the cause 
of this strange force. For imagination, or 
the image-making faculty, may in a certain 
sense be said to be the creator of the world 
within. The separate senses furnish it with 
material, but to it alone is due the building 
of our castles, on premises of fact or in the 



IMAGINATION. 205 

air. For there is no impassable gulf be- 
tween the two. Coleridge's distinction that 
imagination drew possible pictures and fancy 
impossible ones, is itself, except as a classi- 
fication, an impossible distinction to draw j 
for it is only the inconceivable that can 
never be. All else is purely a matter of re- 
lation. We may instance dreams which are 
usually considered to rank among the most 
fanciful creations of the mind. Who has 
not in his dreams fallen repeatedly from 
giddy heights and invariably escaped un- 
hurt? If he had attempted the feat in his 
waking moments he would assuredly have 
been dashed to pieces at the bottom. And 
so we say the thing is impossible. But is 
it? Only under the relative conditions of 
his mass and the earth's. If the world he 
happens to inhabit were not its present size, 
but the size of one of the tinier asteroids, 
no such disastrous results would follow a 
chance misstep. He could there walk off 
precipices when too closely pursued by 
bears if I remember rightly the usual 
childish cause of the same with perfect 
impunity. The bear could do likewise, un- 
fortunately. 

We should have arrived at our conclu- 



206 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

sion even quicker had we decreased the size 
both of the man and his world. He would 
not then have had to tumble actually so far, 
and would therefore have arrived yet more 
gently at the foot. This turns out, then, 
to be a mere question of size. Decrease 
the scale of the picture, and the impossible 
becomes possible at once. All fancies are 
not so easily reducible to actual facts as the 
one we have taken, but all, perhaps, event- 
ually may be explicable in the same gen- 
eral way. At present we certainly cannot 
affirm that anything may not be thus ex- 
plained. For the actual is widening its 
field every day. Even in this little world 
of our own we are daily discovering to be 
fact what we should have thought fiction, 
like the sailor's mother the tale of the fly- 
ing fish. Beyond it our ken is widening 
still more. Gulliver's travels may turn out 
truer than we think. Could we traverse 
the inter-planetary ocean of ether, we might 
eventually find in Jupiter the land of Lil- 
liput or in Ceres some old-time country of 
the Brobdignagians. For men constituted 
muscularly like ourselves would have to 
be proportionately small in the big planet 
and big in the small one. Still stranger 



IMAGINATION. 207 

things may exist around other suns. In 
those bright particular stars which the 
little girl thought pinholes in the dark 
canopy of the sky to let the glory beyond 
shine through we are finding conditions 
of existence like yet unlike those we already 
know. To our groping speculations of the 
night they almost seem, as we gaze on them 
in their twinkling, to be winking us a sort 
of comprehension. Conditions may exist 
there under which our wildest fancies may 
be commonplace facts. There may be 

" Some Xanadu where Kublai can 
A stately pleasure dome decree," 

and carry out his conceptions to his own 
disillusionment, perhaps. For if the em- 
bodiment of a fancy, however complete, left 
nothing further to be wished, imagination 
would have no incentive to work. Cole- 
ridge's distinction does very well to sepa- 
rate, empirically, certain kinds of imagina- 
tive concepts from certain others ; but it has 
no real foundation in fact. Nor presuma- 
bly did he mean it to have. But it serves, 
not inaptly, as a text to point out an impor- 
tant scientific truth, namely, that there are 
not two such qualities of the mind, but only 
one. For otherwise we might have sup- 



208 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

posed the fact too evident to need mention. 
Imagination is the single source of the new, 
the one mainspring of psychical advance ; 
reason, like a balance-wheel, only keeping 
the action regular. For reason is but the 
touchstone of experience, our own, inher- 
ited, or acquired from others. It compares 
what we imagine with what we know, and 
gives us answer in terms of the here and 
the now, which we call the actual. But 
the actual is really nothing but the local. 
It does not mark the limits of the possible. 
That imagination has been the moving 
spirit of the psychical world is evident, 
whatever branch of human thought we are 
pleased to examine. We are in the habit, 
in common parlance, of making a distinc- 
tion between the search after truth and the 
search after beauty, calling the one science 
and the other art. Now while we are not 
slow to impute imagination to art, we are 
by no means so ready to appreciate its con- 
nection with science. Yet contrary, per- 
haps, to exogeric ideas on the subject, it is 
science rather than art that demands im- 
agination of her votaries. Not that art 
may not involve the quality to a high de- 
gree, but that a high degree of art is quite 



IMAGINATION. 209 

compatible with a very small amount of 
imagination. On the one side we may in- 
stance painting. Now painting begins its 
career in the humble capacity of copyist, a 
pretty poor copyist at that. At first so 
slight was its skill that the rudest symbols 
sufficed. " This is a man " was convention- 
ally implied by a few scratches bearing a 
very distant relationship to the real thing. 
Gradually, owing to human vanity and a 
growing taste, pictures improved. Combi- 
nations were tried, a bit from one place 
with a piece from another ; a sort of mosaic 
requiring but a slight amount of imagina- 
tion. Not that imagination of a higher or- 
der has not been called into play, although 
even now pictures are often happy adap- 
tations rather than creations proper. Some 
masters have been imaginative ; others, un- 
fortunately for themselves and still more for 
the public, have not. For that the art may 
attain a high degree of excellence for it- 
self and much distinction for its professors, 
without calling in the aid of imagination, 
is evident enough on this side of the globe, 
without travelling to the other. 

Take, on the other hand, a branch of 
science which, to the average layman, 



210 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

seems peculiarly unimaginative, the science 
of mathematics. Yet at the risk of appear- 
ing to cast doubts upon the validity of its 
conclusions, it might be called the most 
imaginative product of human thought ; for 
it is simply one vast imagination based 
upon a few so-called axioms, which are 
nothing more nor less than the results of 
experience. It is none the less imaginative 
because its discoveries always accord subse- 
quently with fact, since man was not aware 
of them beforehand. Nor are its inevita- 
ble conclusions inevitable to any save those 
possessed of the mathematician's prophetic 
sight. Once discovered, it requires much 
less imagination to understand them. With 
the light coming from in front, it is an easy 
matter to see what lies behind one. 

So with other fabrics of human thought,, 
imagination has been spinning and weav- 
ing them all. From the most concrete of in- 
ventions to the most abstract of conceptions 
the same force reveals itself upon exami- 
nation ; for there is no gulf between what 
we call practical and what we consider 
theoretical. Everything abstract is ulti- 
mately of practical use, and even the most 
immediately utilitarian has an abstract prin- 



IMAGINATION. 211 

ciple at its core. We are too prone to re- 
gard the present age of the world as pre- 
eminently practical, much as a middle-aged 
man laments the witching fancies of his 
boyhood. But, and there is more in the 
parallel than analogy, if the man be truly 
imaginative he is none the less so at forty- 
five than he was at twenty, if his imagina- 
tion have taken on a more critical form ; 
for this latter half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury is perhaps the most imaginative period 
the world's history has ever known. While 
with one hand we are contriving means of 
transit for our ideas, and even our very 
voices, compared to which Puck's girdle is 
anything but talismanic, with the other we 
are stretching out to grasp the action of 
mind on mind, pushing our way into the 
very realm of mind itself. 

History tells the same story in detail ; for 
the history of mankind, imperfectly as we 
know it, discloses the fact that imagination, 
and not the power of observation nor the 
kindred capability of perception, has been 
the cause of soul-evolntion. 

The savage is but little of an imaginative 
being. We are tempted, at times, to im- 
agine him more so than he is, for his fanci- 



212 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

ful folk-lore. The proof of which over- 
estimation is that we find no difficulty in 
imagining what he does, and even of im- 
agining what he probably imagined, and 
finding our suppositions verified by discov- 
ery. Yet his powers of observation may 
be marvellously developed. The North 
American Indian tracks his foe through 
the forest by signs unrecognizable to a 
white man, and he reasons most astutely 
upon them, and still that very man turns 
out to be a mere child when put before 
problems a trifle out of his beaten path. 
And all because his forefathers had not the 
power to imagine something beyond what 
they actually saw. The very essence of 
the force of imagination lies in its ability 
to change a man's habitat for him. With- 
out it, man would forever have remained, 
not a mollusk, to be sure, but an animal 
simply. A plant cannot change its place, 
an animal cannot alter its conditions of ex- 
istence except within very narrow bounds ; 
man is free in the sense nothing else in the 
world is. 

What is true of individuals has been 
true of races. The most imaginative races 
have proved the greatest factors in the 
world's advance. 



IMAGINATION. 213 

Now after this look at our own side of 
the world, let us turn to the other ; for it 
is this very psychological fact that mental 
progression implies an ever-increasing in- 
dividualization, and that imagination is the 
force at work in the process which Far 
Eastern civilization, taken in connection 
with our own, reveals. In doing this, it 
explains incidentally its own seeming ano- 
malies, the most unaccountable of which, 
apparently, is its existence. 

We have seen how impressively imper- 
sonal the Far East is. Now if individuality 
be the natural measure of the height of 
civilization which a nation has reached, 
impersonality should betoken a relatively 
laggard position in the race. We ought, 
therefore, to find among these people cer- 
tain other characteristics corroborative of a 
less advanced state of development. In the 
first place, if imagination be the impulse 
of which increase in individuality is the re- 
sulting motion, that quality should be at a 
minimum there. The Far Orientals ought 
to be a particularly unimaginative set of 
people. Such is precisely what they are. 
Their lack of imagination is a well-recog- 
nized fact. All who have been brought in 



214 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

contact with them have observed it, mer- 
chants as strikingly as students. Indeed, 
the slightest intercourse with them could 
not fail to make it evident. Their matter- 
of-fact way of looking at things is truly dis- 
tressing, coming as it does from so artistic 
a people. One notices it all the more for 
the shock. To get a prosaic answer from 
a man whose appearance and surroundings 
betoken better things is not calculated to 
dull that answer's effect. Aston, in a 
pamphlet on the Altaic tongues, cites an 
instance which is so much to the point that 
I venture to repeat it here. He was a true 
Chinaman, he says, who, when his English 
master asked him what he thought of 

" That orbed maiden 
With white fires laden 
Whom mortals call the moon," 

replied, "My thinkee all same lamp pid- 
gin " (pidgin meaning thing in the mongrel 
speech, Chinese in form and English in dic- 
tion, which goes by the name of pidgin 
English). 

Their own tongues show the same prosaic 
character, picturesque as they appear to us 
at first sight. That effect is due simply to 
the novelty to us of their expressions. To 



IMAGINATION. 215 

talk of a pass as an "up-down " has a re- 
freshing turn to our unused ear, but it is 
a much more descriptive than imaginative 
figure of speech. Nor is the phrase " the 
being (so) is difficult," in place of " thank 
you," a surprisingly beautiful bit of imag- 
ery, delightful as it sounds for a change. 
Our own tongue has, in its daily vocabu- 
lary, far more suggestive expressions, only 
f&miliarity has rendered us callous to their 
use. We employ at every instant words 
which, could we but stop to think of them, 
would strike us as poetic in the ideas they 
call up. As has been well said, they were 
once happy thoughts of some bright partic- 
ular genius bequeathed to posterity without 
so much as an accompanying name, and 
which proved so popular that they soon be- 
came but symbols themselves. 

Their languages are paralleled by their 
whole life. A lack of any fanciful ideas is 
one of the most salient traits of all Far 
Eastern races, if indeed a sad dearth of any- 
thing can properly be spoken of as salient. 
Indirectly their want of imagination be- 
trays itself in their every-day sayings and 
doings, and more directly in every branch 
of thought. Originality is not their strong 



216 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

point. Their utter ignorance of science 
shows this, and paradoxical as it may seem, 
their art, in spite of its merit and its uni- 
versality, does the same. That art and im- 
agination are necessarily bound together re- 
ceives no very forcible confirmation from a 
land where, nationally speaking, at any rate, 
the first is easily first and the last easily last, 
as nations go. It is to quite another quality 
that their artistic excellence must be as- 
cribed. That the Chinese and later the Ja- 
panese have accomplished results at which 
the rest of the world will yet live to marvel, 
is due to their taste. But taste or deli- 
cacy of perception has absolutely nothing 
to do with imagination. That certain of 
the senses of Far Orientals are wonderfully 
keen, as also those parts of the brain that 
directly respond to them, is beyond ques- 
tion ; but such sensitiveness does not in the 
least involve the less earth-tied portions of 
the intellect. A peculiar responsiveness to 
natural beauty, a sort of mental agreement 
with its earthly environment, is a marked 
feature of the Japanese mind. But appre- 
ciation, however intimate, is a very differ- 
ent thing from originality. The one is 
commonly the handmaid of the other, but 



IMAGINATION. 217 

the other by no means always accompanies 
the one. 

So much for the cause; now for the 
effect which we might expect to find if our 
diagnosis be correct. 

If the evolving force be less active in one 
race than in another, three relative results 
should follow. In the first place, the race 
in question will at any given moment be 
less advanced than its fellow ; secondly, its 
rate of progress will be less rapid; and 
lastly, its individual members will all be 
nearer together, just as a stream, in falling 
from a cliff, starts one compact mass, then 
gradually increasing in speed, divides into 
drops, which, growing finer and finer and 
farther and farther apart, descend at last 
as spray. All three of these consequences 
are visible in the career of the Far Eastern 
peoples. The first result scarcely needs to 
be proved to us, who are only too ready to 
believe it without proof. It is, neverthe- 
less, a fact. Viewed unprejudicedly, their 
civilization is not so advanced a one as our 
own. Although they are certainly our su- 
periors in some very desirable particulars, 
their whole scheme is distinctly more abo- 
riginal fundamentally. It is more finished, 



218 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

as far as it goes, but it does not go so far. 
Less rude, it is more rudimentary. In- 
deed, as we have seen, its surface-perfec- 
tion really shows that nature has given less 
thought to its substance. One may say of 
it that it is the adult form of a lower type 
of mind-specification. 

The second effect is scarcely less patent. 
How slow their progress has been, if for 
centuries now it can be called progress at 
all, is world-known. Chinese conservatism 
has passed into a proverb. The pendulum 
of pulsation in the Middle Kingdom long 
since came to a stop at the medial point of 
rest. Centre of civilization, as they call 
themselves, one would imagine that their 
mind-machinery had got caught on their 
own dead centre, and now could not be 
made to move. Life, which elsewhere is a 
condition of unstable equilibrium, there is 
of a fatally stable kind. For the China- 
man's disinclination to progress is some- 
thing more than vis inertice ; it has become 
an ardent devotion to the status quo. Jos- 
tled, he at once settles back to his previous 
condition again ; much as more materially, 
after a lifetime spent in California, at his 
death his body is punctiliously embalmed 



IMAGINATION. 219 

and sent home across five thousand miles 
of sea for burial. With the Japanese the 
condition of affairs is somewhat different. 
Their tendency to stand still is of a purely 
passive kind. It is a state of neutral equi- 
librium, stationary of itself but perfectly 
responsive to an impulse from without. 
Left to their own devices, they are conser- 
vative enough, but they instantly copy a 
more advanced civilization the moment they 
get a chance. This proclivity on their part 
is not out of keeping with our theory. On 
the contrary, it is precisely what was to 
have been expected; for we see the very 
same apparent contradiction in characters 
we are thrown with every day. Imitation 
is the natural substitute for originality. 
The less strong a man's personality the 
more prone is he to adopt the ideas of 
others, on the same principle that a void 
more easily admits a foreign body than 
does space that is already occupied ; or as a 
blank piece of paper takes a dye more bril- 
liantly for not being already tinted Itself. 
The third result, the remarkable homo- 
geneity of the people, is not, perhaps, so 
universally appreciated, but it is equally 
evident on inspection, and no less weighty 



220 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

in proof. Indeed, the Far Eastern state of 
things is a kind of charade on the word ; 
for humanity there is singularly uniform. 
The distance between the extremes of mind- 
development in Japan is much less than with 
us. This lack of divergence exists not sim- 
ply in certain lines of thought, but in all 
those characteristics by which man is parted 
from the brutes. In reasoning power, in 
artistic sensibility, in delicacy of percep- 
tion, it is the same story. If this were 
simply the impression at first sight, no de- 
ductions could be drawn from it, for an 
impression of racial similarity invariably 
marks the first stage of acquaintance of one 
people by another. Even in outward ap- 
pearance it is so. We find it at first im- 
possible to tell the Japanese apart; they 
find it equally impossible to differentiate 
us. But the present resemblance is not a 
matter of first impressions. The fact is 
patent historically. The men whom Japan 
reveres are much less removed from the 
common herd than is the case in any West- 
ern land. And this has been so from the 
earliest times. Shakspeares and Newtons 
have never existed there. Japanese human- 
ity is not the soil to grow them. The com- 



IMAGINATION. 221 

parative absence of genius is fully paralleled 
by the want of its opposite. Not only are 
the paths of preeminence untrodden ; the 
purlieus of brutish ignorance are likewise 
unfrequented. On neither side of the 
great medial line is the departure of indi- 
viduals far or frequent. All men there are 
more alike ; so much alike, indeed, that 
the place would seem to offer a sort of for- 
lorn hope for disappointed socialists. Al- 
though religious missionaries have not met 
with any marked success among the na- 
tives, this less deserving class of enthusi- 
astic disseminators of an all-possessing be- 
lief might do well to attempt it. They 
would find there a very virgin field of a 
most promisingly dead level. It is true, hu- 
man opposition would undoubtedly prevent 
their tilling it, but Nature, at least, would 
not present quite such constitutional obsta- 
cles as she wisely does with us. 

The individual's mind is, as it were, an 
isolated bit of the race mind. The same 
set of traits will be found in each. Mental 
characteristics there are a sort of common 
property, of which a certain undifferenti- 
ated portion is indiscriminately allotted to 
every man at birth. One soul resembles 



222 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

another so much, that in view of the patri- 
archal system under which they all exist, 
there seems to the stranger a peculiar ap- 
propriateness in so strong a family likeness 
of mind. An idea of how little one man's 
brain differs from his neighbor's may be 
gathered from the fact, that while a com- 
mon coolie in Japan spends his spare time 
in playing a chess twice as complicated as 
ours, the most advanced philosopher is still 
on the blissfully ignorant side of the pons 
a&inorum. 

We find, then, that in all three points 
the Far East fulfils what our theory de- 
manded. 

There is one more consideration worthy 
of notice. We said that the environment 
had not been the deus ex materia in the 
matter; but that the soul itself possessed 
the germ of its own evolution. This fact 
does not, however, preclude another, that 
the environment has helped in the process. 
Change of scene is beneficial to others be- 
sides invalids. How stimulating to growth 
a different habitat can prove, when at all 
favorable, is perhaps sufficiently shown in 
the case of the marguerite, which, as an 
emigrant called white-weed, has usurped 



IMAGINATION. 223 

our fields. The same has been no less true 
of peoples. Now these Far Eastern peo- 
ples, in comparison with our own fore- 
fathers, have travelled very little. A race 
in its travels gains two things : first it ac- 
quires directly a great deal from both places 
and peoples that it meets, and secondly it is 
constantly put to its own resources in its 
struggle for existence, and becomes more 
personal as the outcome of such strife. The 
changed conditions, the hostile forces it finds, 
necessitate mental ingenuity to adapt them 
and influence it unconsciously. To see how 
potent these influences prove we have but 
to look at the two great branches of the 
Aryan family, the one that for so long now 
has stayed at home, and the one that went 
abroad. Destitute of stimulus from with- 
out, the Indo- Aryan mind turned upon 
itself and consumed in dreamy metaphysics 
the imagination which has made its cousins 
the leaders in the world's progress to-day. 
The inevitable numbness of monotony crept 
over the stay-at-homes. The deadly same- 
ness of their surroundings produced its un- 
avoidable effect. The torpor of the East, 
like some paralyzing poison, stole into their 
souls, and they fell into a drowsy slumber 



224 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

only to dream in the land they had for- 
merly wrested from its possessors. Their 
birthright passed with their cousins into 
the West. 

In the case of the Altaic races which we 
are considering, cause and effect mutually 
strengthened each other. That they did 
not travel more is due primarily to a lack 
of enterprise consequent upon a lack of im- 
agination, and then their want of travel told 
upon their imagination. They were also 
unfortunate in their journeying. Their trav- 
els were prematurely brought to an end by 
that vast geographical Nirvana the Pacific 
Ocean, the great peaceful sea as they call it 
themselves. That they would have jour- 
neyed further is shown by the way their 
dreams went eastward still. They them- 
selves could not for the preventing ocean, 
and the lapping of its waters proved a 
nation's lullaby. 

One thing, I think, then, our glance at 
Far Eastern civilization has more than sug- 
gested. The soul, in its progress through 
the world, tends inevitably to individualiza- 
tion. Yet the more we perceive of the cos- 
mos the more do we recognize an all-per- 
vading unity in it. Its soul must be one, 




a 

< 



IMAGINATION. 225 

not many. The divine power that made all 
things is not itself multifold. How to recon- 
cile the ever-increasing divergence with an 
eventual similarity is a problem at present 
transcending our generalizations. What we 
know would seem to be opposed to what we 
must infer. But perception of how we shall 
merge the personal in the universal, though 
at present hidden from sight, may some- 
time come to us, and the seemingly irrecon- 
cilable will then turn out to involve no con- 
tradiction at all. For this much is certain : 
grand as is the great conception of Bud- 
dhism, majestic as is the idea of the stately 
rest it would lead us to, the road here below 
is not one the life of the world can follow. 
If earthly existence be an evil, then Bud- 
dhism will help us ignore it ; but it by an 
impulse we cannot explain we instinctively 
crave activity of mind, then the great gos- 
pel of Gautama touches us not ; for to aban- 
don self egoism, that is, not selfishness 
is the true vacuum which nature abhors. 
As for Far Orientals, they themselves fur- 
nish proof against themselves. That im- 
personality is nol, man's earthly goal they 
unwittingly bear witness ; for they are not 
of those who will survive. . Artistic attrao- 



226 THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST. 

tive people that they are, their civilization 
is like their own tree flowers, beautiful 
blossoms destined never to bear fruit ; for 
whatever we may conceive the far future 
of another life to be, the immediate effect 
of impersonality cannot but be annihilat- 
ing. If these people continue in their old 
course, their earthly career is closed. Just 
as surely as morning passes into afternoon, 
BO surely are these races of the Far East, if 
unchanged, destined to disappear before the 
advancing nations of the West. Vanish 
they will off the face of the earth and leave 
our planet the eventual possession of the 
dwellers where the day declines. Unless 
their newly imported ideas really take root, 
it is from this whole world that Japanese 
and Koreans, as well as Chinese, will in- 
evitably be excluded. Their Nirvana is 
already being realized ; already it has 
wrapped Far Eastern Asia in its winding- 
sheet, the shroud of those whose day was 
but a dawn, as if in prophetic keeping with 
the names they gave their homes, the 
Land of the Day's Beginning, and the Land 
of the Morning Calm. 



r I "\HE following pages contain adver- 
tisements of books by the same 
author or on the same subject 



PERCIVAL LOWELL'S 

Mars and Its Canals 

Illustrated, 8vo, $2.50 net 

" The book makes fascinating reading and is intended for 
the average man of intelligence and scientific curiosity. It 
represents mature reflection, patient investigation and obser- 
vation and eleven years' additional work and verification. 
... It is the work of a scientist who has found inspiration 
and joy in his work ; it is full of enthusiasm, but the enthu- 
siasm is not allowed to influence unduly a single conclu- 
sion." Chicago Evening Post. 

"It seems impossible that Mr. Lowell can raise another 
girder more grandly impressive and expressive of the whole 
fabric or take another step in his scientific syllogism that will 
hold us any tighter in his logic. He has practically reached 
already his ' Q.E.D. 1 The thing is done, apparently, except 
for filling in the detail. But with his racy, epigrammatic 
brilliancy of style, his delicate, quiet humor, his daring sci- 
entific imagination all held in check by instructive modesty 
of good breeding, gayly throwing to the winds all professional 
airs and mere rhetorical bounce his course will be no 
doubt as charming to the end as it has been steadily illumi- 
nating even for the illuminati." Boston Transcript. 

" Whether or not we choose to follow the author of this book 
to his ultimate inferences, he at least opens up a field of 
fascinating conjecture. The work is written in a style as 
popular as the precise enumeration of the ascertained facts 
permits, and if the narrative is not in all its details as en- 
trancing as a novel, it nevertheless transports us into a region 
of superlatively romantic interest." New York Tribune. 
" No doubt the highest living authority on Mars and things 
Martian is Prof. Percival Lowell, director of the observatory 
at Flagstaff, Arizona, and astronomical investigator and 
writer known over the entire world. Professor Lowell's 
book, ' Mars and Its Canals,' is the final word, up to the 
present, on the planet and what we know of it." Review 
of Reviews, 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



PERCIVAL LOWELL'S 

Mars as the Abode of Life 

Illustrated, 8vo, $2.50 net 

The book is based on a course of lectures delivered at the 
Lowell Institute in 1906, supplemented by the results of later 
observations. It is, in the large, the presentation of the 
results of the author's research into the genesis and develop- 
ment of what we call a world ; not the mere aggregating of 
matter, but the process by which that matter comes to be 
individual as we find it. He bridges with the new science 
of planetology the evolutionary gap between the nebular 
hypothesis and the Darwinian theory. 

" It is not only as an astronomer but as a writer that Pro- 
fessor Lowell charms the reader in this work. The beguile- 
ment of the theme is well matched by the grace and literary 
finish of the style in which it is presented. The subject is 
one to beget enthusiasm in its advocates, and the author 
certainly is not devoid of it. The warmth and earnestness 
of the true lover of his theme shine through the entire work 
so that in its whole style and illustrations it is a charming 
production." St. Louis Globe Democrat. 

" Mr. Lowell approaches the subject by outlining the now 
generally accepted theory of the formation of planets and 
the solar system. He describes the stages in the life history 
of a planet three of which are illustrated in the present state 
of the earth, Mars, and the moon. He tells what conditions 
we would expect to find on a planet in what we may call the 
Martian age, and proceeds to show how the facts revealed 
by observation square with the theories. The book is fasci- 
natingly readable." The Outlook. 

" So attractive are the style and the illustrations that the work 
will doubtless draw the attention of many new readers to its 
fascinating subject. Professor Lowell has fairly preempted 
that portion of the field of astronomy which interests the 
widest readers, for there is no doubt that speculation regard- 
ing the possibility of life on other planets than our own has 
a peculiar attraction for the average human mind. . . . For 
the convenience of the non-technical reader, the body of the 
book has been made as simple and understandable as pos- 
sible." Philadelphia Press. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publisher! 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



BY LAFCADIO HEARN 
Japan : An Attempt at Interpretation 

Cloth, izmo, with frontispiece in colors, $2.00 net 

" Mr. Hearn's rapid summary of the development of Shinto 
and Buddhism in Japan is a masterly piece of writing in its 
kind. He knows now to seize the essential fact or the essen- 
tial theory, and he masses these facts and theories into an 
exposition so clear and simple that every difficulty of com- 
prehension falls away. The original Shinto or ancestor cult 
of the Japanese is studied as the religion, first, of the single 
family, then of the larger family or class, and, thirdly, of the 
whole people regarded as the family of the Emperor. From 
these three aspects of the faith he proceeds to explain the 
social habits, the temperament and the government of the 
nation. . . . Still subtler and more penetrating are the two 
chapters dealing with the religion of Buddha, which, passing 
from India through China, was grafted in strange manner 
on the national faith of Japan. There will be many readers 
who will find Mr. Hearn's attitude to Buddhism too sympa- 
thetic ; indeed, this charge may well be brought against his 
whole study of the Orient. However that may be, his atti- 
tude of sympathy certainly results in one notable advantage : 
we feel in reading his books, especially in reading this last 
volume, that Shinto and Buddhism are not mere specialties 
of the scholar, but are religions in which the emotional life 
of a great people is involved. To have accomplished so 
much is a rare and praiseworthy feat." The Independent. 



BY MRS. HUGH FRASER 

Letters from Japan 

A RECORD OF MODERN LIFE IN THE ISLAND EMPIRE 
In one volume, 250 illustrations, $3.00 net 

Lively, informal, delightful letters reflecting the Japan of 
which Mr. Lowell has written in " The Soul of the Far East " 
in its more superficial aspects ; or rather, giving us in greater 
detail the externals of that life which Mr. Lowell has inter- 
preted with such amazing insight. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



PERCIVAL LOWELL'S 

The Evolution of Worlds 

Illustrated, 8vo, $2.50 net 

" ' The Evolution of Worlds ' is an issuance in permanent 
form of a course of lectures before the Massachusetts Insti- 
tute of Technology. It is not strange that these lectures 
should have aroused unusual interest and led to a demand 
for their immediate publication, for, in addition to the im- 
portance of their content, they are exceptionally lucid and 
truly popular." Chicago Evening Post. 

" Within a few hours the reader can cover the entire history 
of a world, from its beginning in the form of gaseous flame 
to its final death after all animal life has long departed from 
it, and its ultimate transformation, by collision with some 
other planet, into flaming gas once more material for 
another world, in ages remote beyond the conception of the 
human mind." Boston Globe. 

" The reader must open this volume of wonders, which strain 
untried thought in contemplation of them, reading for him- 
self of the birth, growth, and death of the solar system. It 
is the part of a layman simply to point to it, assuring him 
of the broadened thought and the new meaning of life in 
store for him. For, in the author's own words, ' If night 
discloses glimpses of the great beyond, knowledge invests it 
with a meaning, unfolding and extending as acquaintance 
grows. To know these points of light for other worlds them- 
selves, worlds the telescope approaches as the years advance, 
while study reconstructs their past and visions forth their 
future, is to be made free of the heritage of heaven.'" 
Chicago Examiner. 

" Professor Lowell unites the power of clear and forceful ex- 
pression with the insight of a scientist, a combination suffi- 
ciently rare to be noteworthy. He is always interesting, and 
writes in untechnical language which presents no difficulty 
to the general reader and is often picturesque and striking 
in its effect. Those who desire to acquaint themselves with 
the latest discoveries concerning the planets and to under- 
stand more clearly the past, present and future of these 
always interesting bodies, which include our own world, can 
find no better or more enjoyable book than this one from 
the pen of Professor Lowell." Daily Picayune (New Or- 
leans). 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork 






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